This one may inspire a bit of anger from some people.....
"The Most Amazing Thing About The Most Amazing Player."
Yeah, who could be upset at that?....
Sidney Crosby is on one of two Sports Illustrated covers this week. From the SI website:
Sidney Crosby is still only 25 years old (!?!) and has returned from a fractured jaw to anchor the Penguins in the playoffs. The Eastern Conference's top team would probably do just fine without him, but Crosby is simply, well, amazing according to Michael Rosenberg.
We assume "Greatest Human Being or Greatest Human Being in History?" was their second choice for a headline.
Letang, 26, shared the League scoring lead among defensemen with 38 points, taking seven fewer games to reach the total than Subban. Letang missed 13 games with an injury.
Exhibiting a fluid skating stride that allows Letang to eat up ground and get back on defense, the Penguins defenseman topped all defenseman with 33 assists, a total topped by only 11 forwards this season.
Only six defensemen averaged more time on ice per game than the 25:38 Letang played per game. He played for Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma on both the penalty kill and the power play, where he had 13 of his 38 points.
He probably won't win but, if he does, get ready for a bunch of "Erik Karlsson would have won but Letang's teammate injured him!" posts and articles from Ottawa.
Only one Penguins player has ever won the Norris Trophy. Current Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle did so back in 1980-81.
A guy named Steve Wozniak wrote something for Yahoo Sports about how Murray is the weak link on the Pens' blue line. The article mentions that Deryk Engelland can go stride-for-stride with speedy NHL forwards, so there's that. Also, this gong show was written on the heels of Game 3, which makes it all the more puzzling.
You know it's playoff time when you're visiting WhoWins.com every morning. According to that great website, history tells us that teams in the Pens' position (leading a seven-game series 2-1 and playing Game 4 on the road) are 120-129 all-time in Game 4. That's a winning percentage of .482.
If All-State named its insurance plans, everyone would be ordering the Paul Martin Plan. Martin got off to a rough start this series, but his performance in the third period and overtime of Game 3 may have saved the game and, in fact, the series.
Kris Letang has been putrid (by Letang standards) in this series. With Orpik out, it looks like Letang is trying to do way too much. You don't have to go down on every Penguins player all the time. You can admit that Kris Letang hasn't played his best in this series.
Matt Niskanen was good (and has been good all season). That scrap with Okposo seems to have spanked him up a little bit.
Deryk Engelland has been Deryk Engelland.
Simon Despres looks like a guy in a highly visible and crucial role experiencing his first playoff series.
The armor that Mark Eaton has been wearing all season got dented in Game 3.
Douglas Murray has been on his own island. We'll be discussing Murray in a separate post.
But this post belongs to Paul Martin. Here are four potentially game-saving plays Martin made in Game 3:
With a healthy line-up, Jarome Iginla would likely play alongside Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis. Evgeni Malkin would play with James Neal and Chris Kunitz. Those combinations have proven successful in the past. There's no doubt that Evgeni Malkin and James Neal have great chemistry with one another and Chris Kunitz played well alongside them last season. Crosby and Dupuis also have good chemistry with one another and, in the brief moments that they've played together, Crosby and Iginla seem to gel pretty well. Yes, Chris Kunitz also fits in very well in with Crosby and Dupuis, but that puts Jarome Iginla on a line with Evgeni Malkin.
Maybe that's not the best combination.
Both Jarome Iginla and Evgeni Malkin are incredibly talented players. This is not a post that is meant to knock their ability or their performance during the playoffs. They've both picked up a lot of points in this series. However, they've also received a lot of attention from the Islanders defense and checkers. In addition, they may not be the right two players for one another. With James Neal out with an injury, they've played together and it's looked off. Malkin's style and Iginla's style do not seem to mesh.
The Penguins "stunning" depth looked outmatched by the Islanders top-nine today, as they were outchanced 21-12 and recorded only eight scoring chances at even strength. I don't care how talented your lineup is, this kind of offensive production isn't going to cut it in the playoffs even if they advance out of the first round. Yet, despite having such a low offensive output, the Pens were able to beat Nabokov five times and convert on a little under half of their scoring chances. Whether you want to chalk it up to a strong power play, luck, "killer instinct," "efficiency" or brutal goaltending from Evgeni Nabokov is up to you, but the Pens seemed to have the golden touch whenever they shot the puck today for whatever reason
Interesting look from a neutral party.
After the jump, haters hating, and the Montreal/Ottawa series is out of control.
Michael Jordan had the ball. The game was on the line. He drove to the free-throw line, stepped back on Byron Russell. Iconic moment in NBA history. Even if you don't like the NBA, you remember that play.
Now imagine, directly after that, some marginal NBA player and a horrible former GM got on National TV and said, "Jordan pushed off; that is embarrassing. That is a soft no-call."
Maybe that is a little extreme. Imagine if Lebron James got himself fouled and won the game at the free-throw line. Would the NBA studio hosts go on to call Lebron James a diver? A fraud? The face of their league, the best player in the world. Would they?
On Sunday, Sidney Crosby made this play:
Game on the line, playing with a mask that makes him look like Master Shredder. Crosby got a matchup he liked, drove to the net, and drew a penalty. The Pens went on to score the game-winning goal on the ensuing powerplay. (Oh, by the way, Crosby assisted on it.)
National TV game. Broadcast over. Internet buzzing. They throw it back to the studio, and we get this:
Wow. Crosby went down a little too easy, we hear?
If that was Lebron James driving down the lane late in OT, getting fouled and winning the game at the free-throw line, the studio would love it. The brilliance of the play would be celebrated, not mocked.
The NBA celebrates that. But, no, the NHL puts two hacks on NBC, and they tell a national audience the best player in their game is a diver.
Even if Crosby dove (he didn't; he drew a penalty), why say that? Now"the "casual fan" thinks Crosby is a diver. Well done.
The NHL has four to five times a year to get to a casual fan. Now they let Jeremy Roenick and some hack former GM make their game look like a joke. How dumb is it that NBC will show unlimited commercials featuring Crosby throughout the playoffs, but you've already branded him as soft and called him a diver?
And, hey, we're not saying that people shouldn't speak their minds, but how about someone that can actually do so without undermining your entire league? The NBA studio shows do it. But, no, the NHL would rather have Mike Milbury troll Sidney Crosby and even Alex Ovechkin. They'd rather have Jeremy Roenick go to Twitter and taunt fanbases.
NBC has a small window to sell their game and players. They failed once again on Sunday.