“I feel good and the plan is to play Thursday,” Crosby told the team’s offical website following practice. “I got a good practice and I’m looking forward to getting out there Thursday.”
He. Is. Back. The long awaited return of the Penguins Captain will come on Thursday at Madison Square Garden against the first place New York Rangers. In his second return of the season, Sid couldn’t come back at a better time. With a few weeks to get his sea legs before the playoffs and the Pens making a hard run at first place in the Eastern Conference, the Pens are now even more favored for the Stanley Cup than they were before.
In addition, today All Star defenseman Kris Letang was cleared for full practice and may return Thursday if he is feeling up to it, though it may be a few more games before he takes the ice again in a game.
Crosby will play on line with Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy, while James Neal, Chris Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin take the helm and Jordan Staal, Steve Sullivan and Pascal Dupuis maintain the second line. Many believed that the lines would make a more dramatic shift, possibly moving around the second line and having Staal play on Sid’s wing, but I actually like this more.
Think of it this way: Right now, our top line is the best in the league and is producing a ridiculous amount of points. Our second line is pacing our first line. With the Pens on their way to a possible tenth win in a row, now may not be the time to mess with chemistry. Crosby is the type of player who improves the players around him. He challenges them, motivates them and sets them up for success on net. Tyler Kennedy’s scoring drought could be ended by Crosby centering him, and we need TK scoring in the playoffs.
Based on what I saw at practice the other day, it looks like Sid will be playing the blue line with Letang on the power play once Tanger is back. Our power play options just multiplied. Geno, Staal, Neal, Sid… Mind blowing.
Another point: Who do you play against Sid on your third line? You just took three of the league’s top forwards and distributed them down the line. So your top line plays against Geno and Neal, your second line against Staalsy, your third line against Sidney Crosby, one of the league’s most decorated players? Is that what you do? Or are we now forcing other teams to make tough calls on their lines and mess with their team chemistry? I like the think of the latter. The Pens control the game rosters now for both teams.
The team is nearing full health. The season is drawing to a close and the Pens future never looked brighter!!!! Welcome back, Kid!
LET’S GO PENS!