James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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The Second Coming Back

Thursday, March 15, 2012

For a huge chunk of the hockey world, this is like Christmas or – maybe more appropriately (but perhaps blasphemously) – Easter. Sidney Crosby’s second post-concussive comeback is upon us and things just fell in a way that sort of forced the issue for 3/5 of this week’s Daily Dose columns.


(On Wednesday, I was forced to acknowledge the big announcement. Today, we must preview the big return. Barring something somehow bigger happening tonight, we’ll likely be discussing that return in Friday’s column.)


It seems fair enough in the grand scheme of things. After all, it at least felt like we discussed the Rick Nash non-trade as much as this most recent return bid, so the Crosby haters shouldn’t feel too vindicated.


That being said, you might be getting tired of Crosby talk already. (Those odds are much higher if you’re clicking on this article from Philadelphia, New York, Detroit or any other number of anti-Sid-the-Kid burghs.) With that in mind, I thought I’d follow the lead of TV/movie bloggers and writers by supplying the equivalent of a “spoiler alert” for Crosby details. You’ll now be able to safely skim these articles without sullying your good reading day with all that bloated Crosby talk. Everyone wins!

*** - CROSBY ALERT - ***


Pundits have taken great joy in calling Crosby’s return a “great trade deadline addition” – perhaps out of bitterness toward that uneventful Monday as much as anything else. Yet from a fantasy impact, the comeback is just as profound – Crosby’s owners must strike fear in playoff opponents. After all, they made it to the playoffs with just eight games from the best player in the world, and now he could potentially play in 14 more contests that could contribute to a tide-changing postseason run.


(Note: that doesn't mean Crosby's worth a high-end pick. Any owner who floats that argument is blowing smoke and should just be grateful that their luck is working out.)


In Crosby’s eight games this season, he scored two goals and 10 assists. Granted, two of those tallies and two of those helpers came in that return game against Anders Nilsson and the New York Islanders, but still.


If Crosby can stay healthy, it’s likely that he’ll put up big points as usual – even if he skates with fringe linemates like Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy as it originally seems. Those two are likely the players to watch for waiver wire matters, but I’d recommend making sure that they really skate with him often before adding one of them.


(Then again, if you need fantasy incentive to embrace an interesting story, then go ahead. This is all ultimately about having fun anyway, right?)


Keep in mind that the New York Rangers are an extremely tough first opponent on a significant scale, so don’t get too bent out of shape over what happens – as long as Crosby stays healthy.

*** - END CROSBY ALERT - ***


While the San Jose Sharks offense seemingly sputters, Jamie McGinn continues his absolutely ridiculous streak. It’s almost as if he’s Peter Mueller 2.0, although McGinn had a solid season going in San Jose, too.


With two goals in last night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres – including one with just two seconds left to get Colorado to overtime (where they eventually won in the shootout – McGinn seems downright legit (at least in the framework of this season). McGinn has seven goals and nine points in his last six games. Perhaps even better, McGinn has four two-point contests in that six-game span.


If you didn’t listen already and still have the chance, add McGinn. Like, now. I’ll wait.



Fans of symmetry were at least temporarily satiated as Teemu Selanne scored goal No. 23 of the season, pushing his career total to 1,400 points and 660 goals. He continues to be a reliable source of offense, defying age and showing the kind of consistency that kind of makes his talented young teammates look a little bad.



Ray Whitney had three assists in the Phoenix Coyotes’ 5-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks, continuing one of the best outputs of his lengthy career. Antoine Vermette had a three-point game o his own, as it seems like he’s finding a niche in the desert. Vermette was unable to generate a single point in his first six games with his new team, but he's been red-hot lately. Vermette has two goals and six points in his last five games. I'd like to see him show this kind of scoring touch over a longer period of time, but if you feel antsy, now is a good time to give the versatile center a shot.



Erik Karlsson now has 70 points in 70 games, ranking him seventh overall – in the NHL, not among defensemen. Ridiculous stuff … Speaking of Karlsson, Brian Lawton made an interesting comparison between Karlsson and Oliver Ekman-Larsson last night, essentially saying that OEL is basically Karlsson – only a year behind. He might be a good guy to draft in the last or close-to-last round of drafts for next season … Jonas Hiller generated 23-save shutout against the failing Red Wings, with Henrik Zetterberg providing eight of those shots … I forgot to mention that both John Tavares and Matt Moulson reached the 30-goal mark for the Islanders on Tuesday. Impressive stuff, even if the team’s future is murky (people can romanticize “potential” a bit much sometimes) … Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins keep proving that they probably deserved to be the first two picks of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.



Kris Letang might just return for the Penguins tonight, too … My guess is this won’t matter for the regular season – if what’s left of 2011-12 in general for the Washington Capitals – but it was still likely delightful for them to see Nicklas Backstrom skating again … Nicklas Lidstrom seems frustrated for the Red Wings. He’s likely not used to being injured since that’s rarely happened in his career … Corey Perry missed his second game in a row (shoulder) after playing in 272 consecutive games. Luca Sbisa skated for the Ducks, too, but also missed their dominant win against Detroit … Scott Gomez appears to have a concussion from the hit that drew a three-game suspension for Tyler Myers. (Click here for the full injury list.)

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