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Crosby’s return silences New York and gives Pittsburgh a familiar swagger

Mar 16, 2012, 6:45 AM EDT

Marc Staal, Sidney Crosby Getty Images

The last time we saw Sidney Crosby make his return to action it came on home ice to standing ovations and a four-point night against the Islanders. This time he was against New York’s other team, the Eastern Conference leading Rangers, on the road and the reception was just a bit colder.

Each time Crosby touched the puck the boos rained down. Every time he went into the corner to battle for a puck or cut through the ice with each smooth stride, Rangers fans implored their team to get physical with him. Some of those jeers and taunts were classically New York colorful and sometimes resembling a Roman gladiator mob at its ugliest.

While this comeback game wasn’t nearly as offensively explosive, Crosby says he had to do things different this time.

“I was just trying to calm myself a little bit more than I was last time,” Crosby said. “I didn’t want to get caught trying to do too much… Just making sure I was responsible out there, doing the right things, all those details… Especially in big games like this.”

Don’t be mistaken, it was a big game. For the Rangers, a win would’ve kept the Penguins off of their heels. Instead, the Penguins are even closer to snatching the lead in the division and conference from them. Adding a player of Crosby’s caliber to the lineup makes things feel almost unfair.

Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma had to fight himself from beaming over having a wealth of riches at his disposal in Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, and a healthy Kris Letang. Having all of his stars back at full speed, Bylsma’s confidence in his team and how they match up with opponents is sky high.

“It’s not out of the realm to see 71 out there, or 11, or 87,” Bylsma said. “Any of those lines can play against any line in the league and so matchups aren’t something we’re going to stretch ourselves to worry about.”

That might sound cocky to some fans, but with the Pens back at full strength it’s the sort of confidence you’re allowed to have. When asked if Crosby’s performance can put an end to the questions about whether he can fit into the lineup that’s now on a 10-game win streak, Bylsma breathed a sigh of relief.

“I hope so,” Bylsma said laughing. “I’m sure there’s going to be another one somewhere.”

If that question is going to happen it’ll have to wait until the Pens actually lose a game. For Crosby, the boos and insults will keep coming on the road but as long as the wins keep coming, the opposing fans and critics will be going home angry but silent.

  1. vismund11 - Mar 16, 2012 at 7:14 AM

    Did the Penguins last night? I dont think there’s enough articles about them/him….

    • fleurysteeth - Mar 16, 2012 at 8:06 AM

      yea, they won Vismund11. tss tss you live under a rock or sumthin? tss

  2. kp20520 - Mar 16, 2012 at 8:47 AM

    Did vismund11 his mother last night?

    One word can be very important…

  3. miketoasty - Mar 16, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    Wait, where are all those Ranger fans that said the Rangers were going to whoop the Penguins last night?

  4. sportsfreak13 - Mar 16, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    They are licking their wounds and throwing the “wait till we have a full lineup” card around. The scary part is sid has yet to reach his full potential. Wait till he has 25+ minutes and some consistent linemates.Also couldnt even tell letang missed the last 5 games. His contract is a STEAL.

  5. gaborik104life - Mar 16, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    You put up at least three different articles about the pens winning yet fail to mention that the starting goalie was not in net. All seriousness with how much effort was put into making it known that crosby was in typing just once that lundqvist was not in would be appropriate. Also for all the people that are saying that the pens dealt with injuries you have the two best players in the world. It’s easy to survive one being down. Malkin plays even better when Crosby is out so it is not a concern but when a starting goaltender is out it is a different story for most teams. Just like if Johnson or thiessien was in I would not give much credit if the rangers won the pens fans need to know they’re role. I’m not saying you wouldn’t have beaten us but anyone that knows how to spell Rangers knows we are a top team because of Hank so to say that you guys are better and bug out over one win when they’re is still a game remaining that will tie the series up is pointless.

    • miketoasty - Mar 16, 2012 at 9:51 AM

      First off your username alone takes away a lot of credit, but I will overlook that. Biron was coming into this game with a 12-4-2 with a .91 SV % and a 2.38 GAA. Very respectable numbers for a goalie who could possibly make it as a starter. I understand that your hurt that your team lost, but blaming it on your starting goalie being out is laughable.

      Also, in February, the Pens beat the Rangers 2 – 0 WITH Lunqvist in the net and without Crosby.

      Finally, trust me, if Lunqvist missed 4 months after missing almost a year of playing because of concussions there would have been just as many (Fine maybe a little less) articles about him coming back. Stars being absent is no good for the game and when they get the chance to come back and amaze us we are going to be excited.

      • gaborik104life - Mar 16, 2012 at 10:07 AM

        Yea what is funny though is how you do not know who he faced. The matchup’s were easily favorable for the rangers. He started off the season extremely hot and has since turned cooler than an iceberg and as for him being a starter it is possible on one of the bottom teams. How could you say it’s laughable about blaming it on the starting goalie being out I’m not saying that was the only issue all i’m saying is this victory has to be taken with a grain of salt which no one seems to be doing.

      • miketoasty - Mar 16, 2012 at 10:52 AM

        It’s laughable as no goalie plays 82 games. You put your backup goalie in from time to time and you should still expect to win.

        Take it with a grain of salt? You beat the top team in the east, your 10th in a row, and your captain who has been out for a long period of time is making his return, oh of course I shouldn’t care because the Rangers had their backup goalie in, what was I thinking?!

      • johninpa - Mar 16, 2012 at 11:54 AM

        Maybe you should look at your coach and wonder why he didn’t plan far enough ahead to have adequately rested Lunqvist so he could start against the Pens? Win that game and the Rangers probably clinch the east. Of course, you don’t have any excuses then, do you?

      • gaborik104life - Mar 16, 2012 at 12:58 PM

        @johninpa he had the flu it had nothing to do with the coach resting him.

    • sportsfreak13 - Mar 16, 2012 at 9:53 AM

      Rangers typical. Cant just say good game and well get you next time. Instead you break out the whine. You know what I heard in that whole paragraph ( whaaaaaa lundqvist whaaaa). Pens injuries go way past Crosby. At one point we were down 30 mill from our roster. Our defense was almost all Wilkes Barre at one point.

      • gaborik104life - Mar 16, 2012 at 10:14 AM

        I am not whining it just bothers me that all the nhl cares about is crosby and how onesided the reporting is. I understand the injuries issue the pens have I give you props for how you handled it but this game everyone is making it the be all end all and I admit I would too if hank was in net. However he wasn’t and when he is in net the matchup is different. it’s nowhere near as one sided as everyone is making it when both teams are healthy. When crosby goes out you still have the best healthy player in the league on your roster something Pens fans fail to understand. Losing Crosby is big but having Malkin to pick up the pieces makes it a much easier task than for the other 29 teams. I mean all seriousness as much as I despise the pens their roster is beast and when Crosby is out you still have an amazing player.

      • sportsfreak13 - Mar 16, 2012 at 10:24 AM

        I gotcha and I understand but honestly if Gretzky or lemieux were making this comeback with today’s media it would be the same amount of attention. Sid can’t help it, its the medias way of getting hits and readers because love him or hate him you read. Im not comparing sid to them yet but the things hes done so far are incredible. Love him or hate him you cant deny his talent.If there’s one thing I learned in hockey its never get to high or to low after games. Still alot of hockey left.respect to your team, but idk if we will ever see both teams at full strength go at, that’s just hockey.

      • odj810 - Mar 16, 2012 at 11:19 AM

        The way the penguins plug the holes is seriously unreal, sure they got lucky(good draft picks in the right years) but there gm and coach just find ways to get useful help. There the reason i can’t accept the excuses coming from my bruins or the rangers about injuries. Should be an exciting postseason.

      • jpelle82 - Mar 17, 2012 at 7:33 AM

        biron has better numbers than a lot of starters around the league this year and you should know it if you’re is a real ranger’s fan. not an excuse whatsoever, this is the nhl dude

  6. odj810 - Mar 16, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    pens are the favorite to win the cup.

  7. buffalomafia - Mar 16, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    Cynthia Crosby & Penguins look great!

    Cynthia still has speed! But I notice that Sid was kinda scared to get into the corners for puck but hey take it slow!

    • miketoasty - Mar 16, 2012 at 10:54 AM

      Who is this Cynthia? I checked the box score for last game and no player that played had this name. So confused right now.

  8. reachers87 - Mar 16, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    The only thing bad for Pittsburgh fans last night was the embarassing coverage by Root Sports. From broadcasters to camera men. Horrible!!!

  9. barkar942 - Mar 16, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    I agree with something Torts talks about- Hockey is a game of momentum swings. The faster you can get momentum back on your side, the better chance you have of winning the game.
    First goal for the Pens, fluky bounce, but swung the momentum. Rangers score, pull the momentum back. Bad penalty, Pens score two quick ones. Rangers score one to climb within one- Pens get the fourth and the momentum and then Fleury makes some good saves to help them keep the momentum.
    The puck movement by teams like Pittsburgh and Washington (or at least in previous years) is so quick and so impressive. Little behind the back spin a rama passes that connect allow them to start turning the defense around in circles. Tough for almost any team to defend.
    Sather said yesterday that Pittsburgh is probably the best team in hockey right now- he’s right, and I am a Ranger fan. The Rangers have looked very good in a large percentage of their games this year, and have had a never say die attitude and have won numerous games in exciting ways.
    Are they a contender for the cup? Yes. But for them to get to the finals, the road will be passing through Pittsburgh. Right now, that will be a tough road for any team to pass through.
    It would have been nice to have their full team of regulars healthy and playing last night to see if that changed the outcome last night, but I honestly think the Pens still would have prevailed.
    The Rangers are the closest they have been to returning to the battle for the Cup then they have been in years, but they are still a couple player tweaks away from being the complete team necessary to pull it off. That being said, if any teams goalie gets hot at just the right time (Bryz or Mike Smith) or a offensive line just can’t be stopped (Malkin and Neal, Stamkos and St. Louis, Gabby, Hags and Richards) these things can swing any series into a complete upset. That’s why they actually play the games instead of just declaring a winner off paper!

  10. Buffalo Grumblings - Mar 16, 2012 at 8:09 PM

    The Penguins will win the Cup………or they won’t. Hey Freddie, that will get all the Penguin fans hopping. Watch

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