The Pittsburgh Penguins are a legitimate Stanley Cup contender once again thanks to the return to form of their captain.
It’s early, but through the first 10 games of a 48 game schedule, the Penguins are playing like a team nobody is going to want to have to deal with come playoff time.
Pittsburgh is 7-3 on the year and currently on a four game win streak while sitting at the top of the Atlantic Division. The major question entering the season was how is the league’s best player, Sidney Crosby, going to play after dealing with concussion issues that unfortunately kept him out of the line-up for far too long.
Crosby hasn’t disappointed as he leads the Penguins offensively with four goals, 10 assists for a total of 14 points through the first 10 games. Sid the Kid has always been known as a better playmaker than scorer and he’s been doing a wonderful job setting up teammates like Chris Kunitz and James Neal, who are tied for team scoring with six goals each.
That’s not to say Crosby can’t put the puck in the net, as before he was injured over two years ago, he was lighting the lamp at a pace never seen before by the former first overall pick. Last season was a difficult one to judge the superstar on his performance by, given he was in and out of the line-up often due to a number of reasons. This year is the true sign Crosby is returning to the status that saw him labeled as the world’s best hockey player.
Which means it’s only a matter of time before he starts to find the back of the net as well.
The scary part for his opponents is the fact Crosby isn’t playing at his full potential. After the Penguins were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs last season, he didn’t play in another competitive game until opening night with Pittsburgh this season. Crosby was one of the players that didn’t go overseas during the lockout, choosing to stay in North America with hopes of a conclusion coming sooner than later. By not playing, Crosby went nearly nine months before suiting up for a professional hockey game, using the time-off to further heal his body.
With such a long lay-off between games, no athlete can be at their peak once they return, especially jumping into the circus that is a 48 game season.
As Crosby grows more comfortable and his skating legs continue to improve with each game, Pittsburgh and more importantly, the rest of the world, are witnessing the return of the game’s best player.
Whether you’re a Penguins fan or not, Crosby’s performance has to put a smile on your face given everything he had to endure to return to this point. There’s no denying the game is just that much better with number 87 on the ice.