Mar 5, 2012, 2:04 PM EST
It’s tough for the Pittsburgh Penguins not to think about Sidney Crosby. They’re 8-2 over their last 10 and one of only two Eastern Conference teams to crack the 80-point plateau, which is pretty good.
This naturally leads to thoughts about how they be even better with No. 87 in the lineup — something the Pens can’t help but think about.
“We’re hoping it’s going to be like Christmas morning one day,” defenseman Ben Lovejoy told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We’re going to walk in and, ‘Oh, cool. We get the best player in the world back.'”
“A lot of us think about the possibilities,” defenseman Paul Martin added. “I think a lot of us realize how good we are right now. You get the best player in the league back — and don’t forget about how well [Evgeni Malkin] is playing — and yeah, we realize how good we can be.”
What’s stunning is that, despite being among the leaders in man-games lost to injury, Pittsburgh’s depth continues to overwhelm opponents. Kris Letang (a potential Norris candidate when healthy) has missed almost a third of the season while Zbynek Michalek, Jordan Staal, Tyler Kennedy and Dustin Jeffrey have all missed at least 20 games.
But on the flip side…James Neal is scoring at a point-a-game clip. Chris Kunitz is on pace for just the third 50-point season of his career. Pascal Dupuis should break 40 points for the first time since the lockout and Steve Sullivan — who has been an injury nightmare since the lockout — has played in all 64 games. That’s depth.
And that’s why the Penguins keep daydreaming about Crosby’s return.
“You don’t want to get too excited, because you never really know,” Martin said. “But in the back of our minds, we’re thinking about it.
“We hope it happens.”
- Blue Jackets proud as Columbus shows it’s a hockey town 7
- From contract dispute to All-Star MVP, Johansen’s had quite the year 13
- Marc-Andre Fleury would like to remind the Columbus crowd that the Penguins beat the Blue Jackets in the playoffs 23
- Cannonball Run…and gun: Team Toews wins highest-scoring game in ASG history 22
- Supercut: Every goal from the highest-scoring period in All-Star Game history 5
- Video: Team Foligno survives shootout, wins Skills Competition 4
- Video: Weber wins hardest shot with 108.5 mph blast 13
- Video: Lightning’s Drouin wins fastest skater 7
- WATCH LIVE: NHL All-Star Skills Competition 2
- Will the Youngstars even have a chance? (Updated) 12
- Columnist: Flyers ‘orchestrated’ fight night versus Pens during meal at ‘a local steakhouse’ (130)
- Flyers’ Rinaldo: ‘I changed the whole game, man’ (112)
- Video: Rinaldo tossed for boarding Letang (79)
- Report: Flyers’ Rinaldo waives right to an in-person hearing (61)
- Video: NHL offers Flyers’ Rinaldo in-person hearing (57)