From the Point Too
Finally the Cros has come back!
I had to borrow from Dwayne Johnson — “The Rock,” as he is known in the WWE, as it seemed like the most appropriate way to announce the return of Sidney Crosby.
Depending on your point of view, #CrosbyWatch lives to fight another few days, or it dies with Dan Bylsma’s announcement this afternoon that the Penguins’ captain has been ruled out for this weekend’s games against the Stars and Hurricanes.
If shipping Dustin Jeffrey and Steve MacIntyre to Wilkes Barre-Scranton didn’t open up room for Sidney Crosby and Tyler Kennedy to return, trading Mark Letestu to the Columbus Blue Jackets certainly has.
Though there has been no indication about when Sidney Crosby might make his triumphant return to the Penguins’ line-up, most seem to be pointing to this Friday evening against the Dallas Stars. Heck, I picked that game in Jesse Marshall’s annual pre-season roundtable over at Faceoff-factor.com back in September so I guess I am on board with that speculation as well.
I have been asked on several occasions over the past couple of weeks who would be the next call-up on the Penguins’ blue-line if the team needed to fill a slot—my answer? Alex Picard.
So it was written, so it shall (and has) come to pass… quoth the Metzer… well you get it!
A new season is usually looked at as a rebirth of sorts, a veritable wiping clean of the slate and a chance to start over. The Penguins, like their 29 NHL counterparts, were hoping to do just that, but for as much as they would like to start a new, they just cannot seem to shake the injury bug.
They are still dealing with the lingering injuries to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, probably the two that affected the team most last season, and have grafted several others onto the injured list during the early stages of the 2011-12 campaign.
Though the Penguins didn’t come away with the victory tonight they picked up a couple of small victories. First and foremost, they were able to pick up a point in a game in which they looked as if they were destined to lose. The second came in the form of how they picked up that point – two goals from James Neal.
Neal, who has been maligned to a certain extent by fans and media alike since his arrival in Pittsburgh last February due to his meager goal output, is quickly showing all involved that he is a pretty capable goal scorer.
“Angels we have heard on high,” was the song of the day in Pittsburgh as the news of Chris Kunitz’s contact extension was quickly followed by that which Pens’ fans have been waiting for since January – Sidney Crosby has been cleared for contact.
Crosby has been making progress by leaps and bounds over the past few weeks and like Kunitz’s contract, it seemed to be a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ he would be cleared for contact.
Speculation had been running wild for a couple of weeks that the Penguins and Chris Kunitz were talking contract extension. It wasn’t a matter ‘if’ something would get done, so much as ‘when’ and that when came this morning as general manager Ray Shero has announced that the sides have reached an agreement on a two-year contract extension.
The contract will kick in during the 2012-13 season and runs through the 2013-14 season. The deal brings an annual cap hit of $3.725 million annually and works well for both sides.
“This is a great core of young guys,” Kunitz told the Tribune Review last week. “It’s a great bunch. I love playing with them.”
Though it wasn’t pretty, the Penguins picked up their third win in four games and sent the Consol Energy Center faithful home happy. They got some big contributions from some unlikely sources, as Joe Vitale had the best game of his young career, Richard Park showed why he was brought back to Pittsburgh and Matt Cooke stayed hot.
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