OK, I know that many people in the hockey-loving world (at least those residing in the hardcore regions) grow tired of Sidney Crosby-related bits after someone utters the first syllable of his first name but … wow. As I mentioned in the Monday Daily Dose, for all of the eye-rolling that takes place in Crosby’s name, the “kid” does as much to justify the hype as a hockey player can in 2011.
(One can only imagine the kind of havoc Crosby or a physical specimen such as Alex Ovechkin would wreak if they played in the ‘80s, although most of the havoc would stem from their ability to bend time and space. )
Anyway, Crosby made his risk-taking fantasy owners happy for one night as he scored four points (two goals, two assists) and racked up great peripheral stats: eight shots on goal, a +3 rating and 14 faceoff wins. Sure it was against green-as-can-be goalie Anders Nilsson and the lowly New York Islanders, but those are still eye-popping numbers.
Some might cringe as I throw out this disclaimer, but hopefully he remains healthy for the rest of this season. One amazing game back doesn’t guarantee that he’ll be symptom-free forever and concussion victims tend to be more prone to future problems than those with clean slates. Let’s not forget that Crosby’s hard-driving style can generate other nagging injuries (there might be a few owners who are still smarting from his high-ankle sprain from a few years ago), too.
Still, that game was pure bliss, and with Alex Ovechkin fading from his former no-brainer No. 1 pick status, Crosby might be the Adrian Peterson of fantasy hockey for years to come.
In Monday’s DD, I discussed the merits of Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis.
That Nov. 21 performance was all about Crosby, but how did his passengers fare? Dupuis delivered a great night: three assists and a +3 rating. Kunitz somehow went without a point during that explosive game, but he earned a +3 rating, 2 PIM and three shots on goal. Both are decent depth options - for now.
Of course, fantasy owners must have been frothing at the mouth late in the third period, as Crosby skated at least one even strength shift with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal. It’s likely that Pittsburgh will opt to diversify its scoring attack by splitting up at least one of those three most of the time, but can you imagine the terror opponents would feel while clinging to a one-goal lead with that trio shooting for the tying tally? Yikes.
Who would have thought that the Toronto Maple Leafs employed three of the top four scorers in the NHL last season? Obviously Phil Kessel tops the list - which is surprising enough - but Kris Versteeg and Joffrey Lupul are tied for third overall with 25 points. Naturally, Versteeg isn’t on the team anymore, but it’s stunning that such a much-maligned trio of right-handed shooters has produced like this.
Versteeg notched two tallies and a helper as the Florida Panthers stunned their former coach Peter DeBoer with a 3-0 comeback. It’s pretty hard to deny that Kevin Dineen is making some magic under the sun so far. You won’t find Versteeg in many free agent piles, but Tomas Flesichmann and Stephen Weiss could very well be worth your time. (Jose Theodore is still around in a lot of leagues, too, by the way.)
After the jump: Alexander Semin's benching, hope for Columbus/Carolina and more ...