James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Tuning in to the Crosby Show

Monday, November 21, 2011

I would estimate that approximately 5,000 hockey columnists (some paid, some not … some writing to an audience of one) will or have already discussed Sidney Crosby’s return today. The Hockey Daily Dose isn’t meant to be a defiant puck-related diatribe, so permit me to pepper you with a few thoughts about his comeback before we get to what it really means for most fantasy owners.

First things first, I must ask the fantasy owners who drafted Crosby: does it still feel worth it? Health permitting, Crosby will enact a fascinating experiment: he will determine how many NHL players fall short of the marks generated by 75 Percent Sidney Crosby.. (If he plays all 62 of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ remaining games, he’ll play roughly three-fourths of the team’s season.) Feel free to e-mail me with your thoughts because I’m genuinely intrigued what people are thinking in this fantasy leagues-wide scenario; color me double-intrigued if you pulled a John Buccigross and drafted Crosby in the first round. (You riverboat gamblers, you …)

One more Crosby-specific nugget: the other intriguing question is if Crosby found time to add something new to his bag of hockey tricks despite the concussion issues. Much like Kobe Bryant learning “The Dream Shake,” Crosby seems to improve an area of his game during each off-season. He dramatically improved his faceoff skills following his rookie year struggles, decided to transform from a pass-first player to (briefly) the most dangerous goal-scorer in the NHL and so on.

It all combines to develop something I’ve harped on for a long time: the Crosby hype might be nauseating to many hardcore fans, but at least the guy does everything in his power to live up to the attention.


Dan Bylsma stated that Crosby will center a line with Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis tonight. This makes sense since Crosby has great chemistry and plenty of experience playing with both players; Kunitz forechecks like he’s on a perpetual safety blitz while Dupuis speed and smarts make him a good fit for Crosby despite the Grand Canyon-sized gap in talent between them.

I’ve hammered the “Don’t rely on linemate table scraps” philosophy over and over, so it should come as little surprise that I’d recommend caution with both.

That being said, I can’t blame you if you nab Kunitz in particular. He hasn’t ever exploded while cleaning up Crosby’s garbage, but if you look at his career stats, Kunitz hasn’t been healthy enough to play a bunch of games alongside the game’s biggest name, either. Kunitz shoots a lot, can rack up some solid PIMs and could flirt with the 30-goal plateau if he sticks with Crosby - which is something he’s done for most of his stay in Pittsburgh.

In other words, if you want an extra reason to watch Crosby on NHL Game Center Live or Center Ice, then picking up Kunitz as a depth forward should be your ticket.

After the jump: Kessel continues to amaze, old dogs sniff top jobs and more.

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James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
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