It’s been a frustrating 16 months for Sidney Crosby.
Sid the Kid hoped to finally put his concussion/neck injury behind him and focus on hockey in the playoffs. But the hockey gods had different plans, matching the Pittsburgh Penguins up with the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round.
The rivalry has never been more intense and the Flyers are clearly getting under the skin of a frustrated Crosby, who appears to be mentally exhausted.
Crosby has always been focused on being the best player possible. He had early success as a pro: he won the Hart Trophy in 2007, captured the Stanley Cup in 2009 and scored the golden goal for Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
He is still putting up the points (3 goals, 5 assists in 4 games) but that has to be put into perspective; this has been a crazy, high-scoring series. The Pens might be up 3-1 instead of down 3-1 if their captain focused more on hockey instead of his hatred for the Flyers.
After what he’s been through since suffering his head/neck injury in January 2011, some say the Pens should have shut their superstar down for the season. That would have obviously been an incredibly difficult decision to make.
Crosby, for the most part, is a classy guy, even with the media. But that hasn’t been the case this week either as he’s said flat out that he dislikes every one of the Flyers.
At times like these, it’s easy to forget Crosby is only 24 years old. But still, he’s Pittsburgh’s captain and the whining and extracurricular activity after the play has been a distraction to his team. Hey, he can be physical out there; I have no problem with that. But he isn’t helping the Penguins right now with this type of leadership. Star players like Kris Letang and James Neal have followed suite and the Pens are in trouble. Sure, the pounded the Flyers 10-3 on Wednesday night, but they’ve dug themselves a big hole.
For the fans, it’s been an exciting series to watch: tons of scoring and plenty of nastiness. Ratings are through the roof for TSN and even down in the U.S. as well.
But Penguins owner Mario Lemieux is embarrassed with his team’s play and conduct. Even though the points are still there for Crosby, Lemieux and hockey fans everywhere still expect more from the best player in the game today.
ROAD WARRIORS: Road teams are an incredible 19-9 this post-season through Wednesday night’s games. Detroit, Pittsburgh and Vancouver are each 0-2 at home. Those three teams were a combined 87-27-9 at home during the regular season. In fact, Detroit set an NHL record this year with 23 consecutive wins on home ice.
THE RATS ARE BACK: The Florida Panthers are looking to win their first playoff series since 1996, when they went all the way to the Stanley Cup final. During that run, which ended with a loss to Patrick Roy and the Colorado Avalanche, Florida fans would toss plastic rats on the ice to celebrate goals. It all started when Scott Mellanby killed a rat in the locker room with his stick before a Panthers game. Mellanby then went out and scored a pair of goals that night – with the same stick. One member of that team was current Cornwall Colts associate coach Ray Sheppard, who had 16 points in 21 games for the Panthers that spring.
QUICKLY BECOMING A STAR: Jonathan Quick has been the best-kept secret in the Western Conference this season – until now. The Los Angeles Kings netminder is having his coming-out party in these playoffs. He’s been sensational in the first round vs. the Vancouver Canucks, allowing only seven goals in the first four games of the series. The 26-year-old posted his second straight 35-win campaign and had an impressive 1.95 GAA this season.
TOUGH WAY FOR ALFIE TO GO OUT: It’s been a memorable season for Daniel Alfredsson and hopefully the Senators captain hasn’t played his last game in Ottawa’s series vs. the New York Rangers. Alfredsson, who bounced back with solid offensive numbers this year, was selected as a captain at the All-Star Game in Ottawa and led the rebuilding Sens to an unlikely post-season berth. Ottawa fans have shown Alfredsson their appreciation all year and I love how they count down to the eleven minute mark of every period, and then chant “Alfie! Alfie! Alfie!” The Sens leader suffered a concussion when he took a Carl Hagelin elbow to the head in Game 2. Hagelin was suspended for three games.
COLTS ONE WIN AWAY: For the second straight spring, the Colts will host Game 6 of the CCHL final in their own barn with the Bogart Cup in the house. This time, it’s the Colts who can capture the championship at the Ed Lumley Arena on Friday night. Playoff hero Michael Borkowski scored the winner in double overtime on Wednesday night to give Cornwall a 3-2 series lead over Nepean. Tyson and Tylor Spink assisted on the goal, as the Colgate line combined for eight points on the night. The Colts can win their first playoff championship in 11 years on Friday night – and advance to the Fred Page Cup, which will be held April 24-29 in Kanata.
READY FOR A ROCKY RACE: This weekend marks the 40th anniversary of the Raisin River Canoe Race, which runs from St. Andrews to Williamstown every spring. Water levels aren’t high, but the race will go on. Thankfully, there’s quite a bit of rain in the forecast heading into the weekend; but it might still be a bumpy ride for canoeists.
PIPER’S POINTS: Many predicted a Vancouver/Pittsburgh Stanley Cup final. I was one of them, and I loaded up on Canucks and Penguins in my playoff pool as well. I guess I was WAY OFF! Both teams trail in their series, 3-1. Dare I say the Flyers/Kings will still be playing in June? That prediction might be as safe as three-goal leads in these NHL playoffs.