I am in love with Sidney Crosby.
Now, before you label me as one of those barely legal teeny-boppers that buy pink jerseys and hold up signs asking for his children, let me explain my deep and unwavering affection. Sidney arrived on the scene like a bolt of lightning, creating a stir and bringing hope to an often troubled club. Now I can admit, we haven't been the most stellar of teams in the past. True, the early 90's were the golden years...but in Sidney, and the other bright faces that we've seen come in, it looks as if there may be a renaissance. We saw the start of it last year (even though we had a horrid season, bidding Mario a final farewell), this year has been a breath of fresh air, a shining patch of sunlight on a cold, dreary November day.
Metaphors and similies aside, this year has been wonderful for Pens fans, with Sidney our poster boy in more than his good looks. Racking up 30 points, and trailing just barely after our Russian superstar, he has endeavoured to learn constantly, asking questions of more experienced players, and fixing slights that he can see within himself as he continues on his career. If you haven't seen him skate, especially with Malkin, you are truly missing something special.
It is all of these things, his drive to be the best, his commitment to the game, his willingness to learn and share, and just the pure enjoyment he gets out of playing hockey, that make me love him. Of course, his incredible shoulders and cute smile don't hurt, but his talent is indeed more than skin deep.
Why am I bringing this up? Sidney has missed the last two games from a groin injury, and although I was unable to watch the Islanders game yesterday (so much for getting out of work early on Black Friday), I heard that it went much the same as the performance against the Bruins. We have the talent, we have the drive....but we need something to put it together. On Wednesday, I saw a lot of great skating, passing, and moving the puck around...but there was a lack of scoring chances made and when those did become available, we tried to make plays instead of just taking the chance. I love that we are trying to make plays, that we share the puck, but really....shoot the damn puck more. Fleury was pretty solid, although he let one slip by that made me cringe, and from what I heard, T-bo was also on his game. So what is the problem?
I fear that Sidney's posterior warming the bench may let us get a preview of what is to come. Now, as all the sports websites love to tell us, Sidney's contract is up after next season....and so is Fleury's. I would love to see us keep both...but we do not have enough money, and we may not even have an arena. What would the Pens do without Crosby? He is only one man, and we do have quite a bit of great young talent...but as we have seen the past two games, he does a lot to bring things together. It could just be a coincidence, and Malkin has stepped up as the second in command while the
captain assistant captain is away wonderfully, but it does beg the question: Is Sidney Crosby essential to the Penguins success? He is phenomenal, but it takes more than one man to play hockey.
Next confession: I am happy that the Oilers won against Calgary. The Flames are great, and Kipper in particular....but you just can't help but enjoy watching the Oilers play. Congrats to Edmonton for being first in the division! Now let Jussi out of whatever box you keep him in and let him play a little more.
Last confession: I may still love Chris Pronger. Please bear in mind, this does not mean that I have forgiven him, and I can't imagine the feelings of the long-time Edmonton fans (unless having Jagr give you the figurative bird and go to the Rangers counts), but I am sure that we will hear from those fans on Tuesday, loud and clear. Until then, I will leave my comments about Pronger for another time.
Puck drop at 7:30 pm at Mellon. Go Pens!
(P.S. Go Flames! The Kings need a good ass-kicking)