Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 09/08/11 at 08:50 AM ET
from Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Even if Crosby comes back this season, danger lurks. He would rejoin a league that still has such a thing as a “legal head shot,” to quote NHL commissioner Gary Bettman — and there is no predicting how Crosby’s brain will react to the next big hit, no matter what the medical experts say.
The cruel nature of his injury makes Crosby day-to-day for good.
The false hope of Crosby’s return permeated the Penguins’ dressing room during last year’s playoffs and made for a daily distraction until he shut it down for good. That can’t happen again. This team starts training camp in 10 days and opens the regular season Oct. 6 at Vancouver. Bylsma and his staff should be strategizing short- and long-term without penciling Crosby’s name onto the depth chart.
This is Evgeni Malkin’s team for now — and despite injuries and bouts of inconsistency, Malkin has shown he can carry the club. When he’s right, he is a top-five player in the world. A two-time 100-point scorer. He should run the power play from the right half-boards, as he did so expertly during Crosby’s prolonged absence in 2007-08.
The Penguins’ defense and goaltending is second to none. They lack firepower up front, but if Malkin returns to form, they would be a viable Stanley Cup contender without Crosby.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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