Going into the game tonight a lot of people were wondering how long it was going to take Sidney Crosby to get back into the groove of playing hockey and getting back into top form. As I listened to the pregame show it seemed as if everyone knew he was going to be alright but weren’t sure how long it might take to get him back to the level that he has been in the past. Well, it took three shifts and 5:24 of game time.
Bing brought the roof down with a sick backhand goal on his third shift just over five minutes into the game. I could go into the details of how it went down but it is just much easier to show you:
Just sick. Crosby just didn’t finish with that he also added the final goal of the night, in the 5-0 win, and two more helpers to finish with a four point night. Ho hum. Honestly thought it didn’t even look like he missed a beat. Although he normally dominates the Islanders it looked especially easy tonight against goaltender Anders Nilsson who made his first career start. He only played 15:54 tonight so realistically it could have been a five or six point night. Not only was he dominating on the offensive end but he won 14-of-21 face offs and had a team-high eight shots. Hasn’t missed a beat.
Outside of Crosby it was really just a dominating performance by the Pens. Pascal Dupuis had three assists tonight and the other line mate of that top line was a +3 with three shots while Evgeni Malkin posted a power play goal and a helper and Steve Sullivan and Brooks Orpik (!) got on the board. Just a dominating performance and this team is scary good with everyone back.
With Crosby back that really took the focus off the defense which has struggled but got a huge boost with Zbynek Michalek coming back. He had missed a bunch of time with a busted up finger but he was able to play almost 20 minutes and I think going forward it is going to be a huge help for Paul Martin. A lot of people have been on Martin and Michalek so far this season for some average (or below average) play but now that they are paired up again I think they are going to start to improve as the season goes on.
Marc Andre Fleury was rock solid tonight. He earned his second shutout of the season and while he didn’t need to do a ton early he made some brilliant saves to not even give the Islanders an inkling of hope and was a huge part of shutting them out in their five power play attempts.
Great atmosphere at the CONSOL tonight and it is going to be really fun to be able to watch this team fully healthy. I mean as well as Joe Vitale has played this year he is a healthy scratch tonight. Great problems to have.