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The Big Question: Are the Pens Cup favorites with Crosby?

Nov 21, 2011, 12:48 PM EDT

Sidney Crosby AP

The Big Question will be a weekly feature on PHT where we ask a question, provide some background and ask you, the reader, to weigh in with your opinions.

Today’s question: Are the Penguins the Stanley Cup favorites?

Not sure if you heard, but Sidney Crosby is playing a hockey game tonight. The best player in the world will be a nice addition for the Pittsburgh Penguins, as best players in the world typically are for teams.

The Pens haven’t suffered too badly without Crosby. They’re 11-6-3, tied for third in the league. James Neal , Jordan Staal, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury have been outstanding. Evgeni Malkin is a point-a-game player.

Top to bottom, it’s hard to find a real weakness.

Impossible, even.

Of course, Pittsburgh isn’t the only good team in the NHL. You could make a case for each of Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago as the current Cup favorite.

Personally I think it’s the Pens. The play of Neal and Letang are huge factors for me, just so far as things that differentiate this season’s Pittsburgh team from past seasons – Neal to take the scoring load off Crosby and Malkin, Letang because almost every single Cup winner has an elite defenseman.

Agree? Disagree? The comments section awaits.

Update: Pierre McGuire and Jeremy Roenick apparently agree.

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  1. danphipps01 - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    They’re contending without him. They’re only likely to be better with, and if they lose him again? Meh. Not like they’ll be unable to continue at the pace they’ve set so far. I’m not sure why anyone wouldn’t expect them to seriously contend, but let’s not go calling outright favourites twenty games in, yes?

    • hockeyfan1701 - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:36 PM

      As a Pens fan I have to agree. A lot can happen over the course of the season. They had just about everyone healthy the year after they won the cup and lost in the 2nd round to the Habs.

      • danphipps01 - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:48 PM

        In fairness, Halak went and typed in the code for God Mode for the first two rounds before forgetting what it was against the Flyers. The Pens outplayed everyone else on the ice, same as the Caps did – but despite playing flat-out better hockey, neither team could score on their invincible death-goalie.

  2. t16rich - Nov 21, 2011 at 2:01 PM

    My bookie had them as favorites to win the cup for the past 3 weeks without him. So why wouldnt they continue to be favored with him? Especially if they keep winning games. Stupid headline.

    • Jason Brough - Nov 21, 2011 at 2:15 PM

      You know how sports books work, right? The odds aren’t necessarily indicative of a team’s true chances — they’re also a reflection of the action that’s being booked. The Caps are the second heaviest favorite at most books. Think that’s accurate?

  3. jpelle82 - Nov 21, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    the pens have proven they can win without crosby or malkin…having both i think is the key here. its a whole different game when you have to have to defensively match up against 2 thoroughbred lines instead of loading up against one. most teams dont have enough two-way forwards and high caliber defensemen to play the penguins top 2 lines as it is and now with crosby back, the pens bring 3 complete grade A lines to contend with…the staal cooke and kennedy line is going to get the good matchups and they have already played well against the top opponent’s top 6 as it is. look out

  4. stakex - Nov 21, 2011 at 3:57 PM

    If Crosby comes back and plays well… the Penguins will certainly be a top tier team this year. Favorite though? Who knows at this point in the season. If however Crosby comes back as a shadow of his former self, which is at least a realistic possibility, then the Penguins are in trouble. Sure they are playing good right now, but some of the role players who have stepped up will see less ice time now… and some will naturaly relax a bit. So if Crosby doesn’t play well, expect the Penguins play to drop off quite a bit.

  5. rca26 - Nov 21, 2011 at 4:33 PM

    Bolts fan over here…and with how tough they played us last year without Crosby and Malkin, you better believe I’d put money on them now.

  6. 8man - Nov 21, 2011 at 4:40 PM

    Yes. Of course they are. Make them the even money favorite and just completely disregard the Bruins, the Bolts, the Habs, the Flyers, the Wings, the Hawks, the Sabres, the Caps and host of other fine teams.

    It won’t mean much, but I can’t wait until my Bruins skate into Mellon Arena. Already sick of the Pens love fest. C’mon, Pittsburgh, do me a favor and opt to wear white that night.

    Go you Stanley Cup Champion Bruins!

    • 187onsandusky - Nov 21, 2011 at 8:54 PM

      Have fun in the Mellon. The Pens will be waiting for them over in the Consol. Clearly you are a clueless individual who has little ability to look outside his own little world (read parents basement)

  7. carol6645 - Nov 22, 2011 at 2:02 AM

    Of course they will win the Cup again! Their team is far surpassing what they were then! I, personally, see a star filled group who care about fighting together to win. It isn’t a ONE MAN team. Excellence comes when there is unselfish play. They have all it takes WORKING TOGETHER! Ovechkin could learn from their team effort! Spoiled Russian that he is. He holds his team back. They have to win in spite of him! How pathetic! He pouts when he does’t get all his way. Penguins don’t ever look back! You are magical!

  8. wheresdapuck - Nov 22, 2011 at 5:17 PM

    One game with Crosby back and the Pens have won the Cup. Don’t think so…

    They played the Islanders – I don’t consider that a team to guage the Pens by. Let them play a few more games with Crosby before you consider them nothing more than a team on stroke of good luck!

    P.S. For you Pens fans, Crosby is the biggest whiner in the NHL!

  9. carol6645 - Nov 22, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    Your spelling is wrong dear. That should be ‘WINNER’! ;)

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