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Crosby, Penguins produce Lemieux-like magic

Nov 21, 2011, 9:45 PM EDT

Sidney Crosby AP

Earlier tonight, PHT asked if Sidney Crosby could match the kind of magic that Mario Lemieux exhibited during his comeback from retirement in 2000. Sure there are some differences – particularly the quality of the teams they faced – but the 2011-12 Pittsburgh Penguins produced a remarkably similar night as Lemieux’s team did on Dec. 27, 2000. Let’s take a look at the shared qualities:

  • Both had big nights overall, as Crosby scored two goals and two assists while Lemieux produced a tally and two helpers. (The especially impressive part is that Crosby produced those points in far less ice time than Lemieux; Crosby played a little under 16 minutes while Lemieux logged 20:46 in his retirement return.)
  • The scores were an identical 5-0; Garth Snow stopped 40 shots while Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside 29. Both the 2000-01 Toronto Maple Leafs and tonight’s New York Islanders could do little to slow the Penguins down, even if their shot totals showed that they weren’t just rolling over. (OK, maybe the Isles rolled over a bit … )
  • Lemieux and Crosby’s famous partners in crime showed up in a big way in those games, too. Jaromir Jagr had the same results as Crosby (two goals and two assists) while Evgeni Malkin generated a goal and an assist.

Looking ahead

So here’s the interesting wrinkle: Lemieux managed to be a Hart Trophy finalist after he scored a dazzling 76 points in just 43 games (in the mucky Dead Puck Era, no less). If Crosby can play in every remaining contest of the 2011-12 season, he’ll hit the 62-game mark, so he can look at Lemieux’s impressive run as motivation for an improbable attempt to win another MVP.

That’s a pretty tough mark to reach, but at this point, are you really comfortable doubting what Crosby can do?

  1. 8man - Nov 21, 2011 at 9:51 PM

    Well he’d better be productive, he took 10 months off!

    It’s all I’ve got. That was impressive.

    • James O'Brien - Nov 21, 2011 at 10:00 PM

      Oh yeah, one other thing: Garth Snow was involved again tonight … only he was the GM of the team that got crushed, instead.

  2. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 21, 2011 at 10:10 PM

    I’d say he’s pretty good

  3. bostonhasrealhockey - Nov 21, 2011 at 10:13 PM

    Welcome back kid

  4. stakex - Nov 21, 2011 at 10:26 PM

    Crosby played very well tonight, and Penguins looked very sharp.

    It is however a little early to make any predictions for his play for the rest of the season. Lets not forget who this game was against (most commentators are). Crosby could not have come back during a more favorable game… ever. The Islanders are the bottom feeders of the eastern conference, and their goalie was playing only his second NHL game…. that screams absolutely ideal scoring conditions if there ever was such a thing. To add to that this was a home game, and the Penguins were clearly pumped up.

    Add that all together and you get a perfect storm for Crosby’s return. The real test will be the next 10 games when the high of Crosby’s return subsides, and he gets to play against some real teams and experienced goalies. Even with him getting a 4 point night I have to stick by my previous prediction that he’ll probably have a 30 goal, 60 point season…. and any talk of him winning the scoring title is simple Crosby ass-kissing until he proves otherwise.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 21, 2011 at 11:50 PM

      I like how in the booky ou wrote earlier today you said something to the effect of, “Let’s see if he can score one goal before we talk about 50.” Now that he’s showed he’s the same as ever you’ve turned your argument to, “It doesn’t matter that he looked good because it was against the Isles.” What’s your excuse gonna be when he lights up the rest of the league? I have to admit I was skeptical about him picking up where he left off but anybody who watched this game knows he did not look like a guy who had missed 10 months. He was the same as his old self and you’re just trying to convince yourself he won’t rip it up this year because you know he’s gonna rip your Rangers

      • stakex - Nov 22, 2011 at 1:17 AM

        The thing is, he hasn’t showed hes the same as ever yet.

        I don’t know whats so hard to understand about the fact we saw a fired up Pit playing the worst team in the NHL, and going up agaisnt a rookie goalie in his second NHL game ever. This was one of the easiest games Crosby (or pretty much anyone on Pits roster) will ever play in his entire career. It was the perfect game back for Crosby. Sure he didn’t look like a guy who missed 10 months (then again, its not like he hasn’t skated in 10 months), but he was playing against the worst team in the league. If you can honestly sit there and tell me that didn’t help make him look better then he would have if they were playing Boston or Philly, your kidding yourself.

        Its not that I have anything against Crosby being back to his old self. Its just that its so ignorant to make that declaration from this game. A rational person knows its going to take some time to tell just how back he really is. For all anyone knows, Crosby could go pointless in his next 5 games. After all, not every game is against the Islanders and a rookie goalie. A good 10 games will tell the tale if hes back or not. If hes playing at a 1.5 point a game clip at that point (thats just 11 more points in 9 games… should be nothing if hes really back)… I’ll hop on the bandwaggon, and you can mark my words on that.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 22, 2011 at 1:35 AM

        That first goal could have been scored against any goalie on any team. You’re just playing devil’s advocate here. He looked better than most people could have expected and while he won’t put up 4 points every night he’s going to be as good as he ever was. Anybody who has watched him before and watched him tonight (actually watched him and not just the highlights) knows as much. Not many players can jump back into the highest level of hockey as seamlessly as Crosby did tonight after so much time off. He will be as good against Boston or Philly or any other team you care to name

  5. gbiscottagecheesefatties - Nov 21, 2011 at 10:29 PM

    The ‘kid’ is the best, PERIOD. Not a fan of his but he is a machine. Jealous he isn’t on my squad

  6. hockeyfan1701 - Nov 21, 2011 at 11:16 PM

    I love the Penguins, they are my team and always have been. Sid is the current best in the game, but the non-stop verbal BJ versus was giving him was even a bit much for even me.

  7. stairwayto7 - Nov 21, 2011 at 11:24 PM

    You know its a big deal when stuart “one eyed” scott is talking about himon ESPN! Pens just sealed up stanley cup!

    • m1k3g - Nov 22, 2011 at 12:52 AM

      That’s why I stopped watching ESPN years ago. They pretty much don’t even cover the NHL anymore. On top of that, they have guys like Scott Burnside doing the coverage (I do like EJ, though).

      I remember going to towards the end of the NHL regular season last year. There was crazy drama that had happened in the league the previous night…. major playoff-shuffling stuff. So much good stuff to write about. When the page loaded there was a story about the *W*NBA *DRAFT* as the MAIN story on the front page.

      I haven’t been back to since. If it wasn’t for MNF, I could live without espn completely.

      • Sam Von Schamm - Nov 22, 2011 at 3:00 AM

        Most people bail on ESPN when they hit their 30’s–families, jobs, things to do on Sunday, etc. Stuart “Welcome to 1997” Scott is annoying, as is Chris Berman, but essentially you realize eventually that your team is only being discussed 3% of the time, and it’s just not worth it to hang around and get inside info on the teams that mean nothing to you.

      • florida727 - Nov 22, 2011 at 8:58 AM

        Couldn’t agree with you guys more. If it weren’t for college football and college basketball, I doubt I’d watch ESPN anymore. Can’t remember the last time I actually watched an entire SportsCenter episode. Of course, if I went to bed early, I could turn it on at 6a ET or 7a ET, then again at 8a ET, or 9a ET, or if I missed those… 10a ET or 11a ET, or I could watch it over lunch at 12noon ET.

        How could the WNBA draft EVER be a main story on any reputable website? :)

        They haven’t been the same since Dan Patrick and Keith Olberman left SportsCenter.

  8. Chris Ross - Nov 22, 2011 at 12:15 AM

    Sidney Crosby is unreal. 4 points, 2 goals, in his return after almost a year. Just ridiculous. This guy is the best in the game, I doubted it for a while because my liking for Ovechkin’s personality got in the way but there is no doubt about it and not just because Ovechkin isn’t playing well right now. This guy’s got it all and the NHL and its fans better hope he can be around for a long, long time.

  9. m1k3g - Nov 22, 2011 at 12:45 AM

    “Crosby and Lemieux made big plays in their first shifts, although Mario was the one who scored a goal while Crosby’s setup for Chris Kunitz didn’t hit the net. Crosby didn’t take much time to correct that – and in dramatic fashion – though.”

    This was over 10 years ago, so my recollection could be off. However I’m pretty certain Mario did not score on that shift. Mario set up Jagr about a minute into the game.

    Mario’s goal came later (in the 3rd, I believe). Jagr set him up on a one timer from right to left.

    It’s crazy how the big guys seem to always be able to produce in these huge, once in a lifetime moments.

  10. carol6645 - Nov 22, 2011 at 1:01 AM

    There was no doubt he would shine and be the SUPERSTAR he is! The Penguins are a SUPERSTAR team! They stand alone in excellence!

  11. toegoat - Nov 22, 2011 at 8:07 AM

    Some ppl just need to accept the fact that CROSBY is back and quit making excuses for why he just had a 4 pt night.

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