SportsNation Blog Archives Pittsburgh Penguins
How do you judge a Bruins team that found itself down three goals in the third period of a Game 7 only to win in overtime? That's just one of the challenges you face below. Click on the images of the eight teams remaining in the quest for Lord Stanley's Cup to set your power rankings heading into the next round.
Rank: NHL conference semifinalists
Sidney Crosby has been out since suffering a broken jaw on March 30 against the New York Islanders, and it looks like the Pittsburgh Penguins will be without their captain when they open the playoffs against that same Islanders team. Crosby has not been cleared by doctors to play and will miss at least Game 1 of the Penguins' opening-round playoff series. Pittsburgh earned the Eastern Conference's top seed despite not having Crosby for the last 12 games of the season. Do they need him to advance in the playoffs?
On the same night Jarome Iginla made his Penguins debut, the NHL's hottest team suffered a significant loss. No, it wasn't their win streak -- which is now at 15 games -- but their star player, Sidney Crosby. The league's leading scorer took a puck to the jaw and is out indefinitely after surgery. How much will his absence hurt the Penguins? And does it mean the end of their pursuit of the win streak record?
A Pyrrhic victory?
The Penguins picked up their 15th straight win Saturday but lost their star center indefinitely.
The Penguins and superstar center Sidney Crosby have agreed to a contract worth $104.4 million over 12 years. The front-loaded deal, which takes effect for 2013-14, will average $8.7 million per season. Crosby, widely regarded as the NHL's best player, already has a Stanley Cup and a Hart Trophy as the league's MVP to his credit. But he has also sustained multiple concussions that sidelined him for the bulk of two seasons. Is it risky for the Penguins to set aside that much money for a player with a serious concussion history?
Good news for Sidney Crosby?
Still sidelined by concussion-like symptoms, Sidney Crosby may not be suffering from a concussion. A soft-tissue injury in his neck may be responsible and is "more treatable."
Will this all fade away eventually?
Crosby played at least 77 games in four of his first five seasons. Does the news about his injury make you think he may eventually regain that form?
Does his name match his game?
While Crosby sits, players like Steve Stamkos (above), Claude Giroux and even veterans like Pavel Datsyuk and Evgeni Malkin thrive. Where is Crosby in the NHL pecking order?
Already a Hall of Fame career?
Thankfully, this sounds more and more like a purely hypothetical question. But with a Cup, a Hart Trophy, a gold medal and more, is Crosby already a hockey immortal?
If a tree falls in the forest ...
The Penguins and Capitals take the ice tonight, but with no Sidney Crosby and the teams ranked No. 8 and No. 10, respectively, in the East, do you care?
Are the Penguins in trouble?
On the eve of the regular season, SN ranked the Penguins No. 4 in the NHL. They're currently eighth in the East, one point ahead of the Winnipeg Jets.
Are the Capitals in trouble?
Of course, it could be worse. SN ranked the Capitals No. 3 overall in the preseason. If the playoffs started today, they wouldn't be included.
Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby?
Alex Ovechkin showed some signs of life recently, but he's tied for 18th in goals a season after slipping from 50-plus goals to 32. Is he still a better bet than Crosby?
Will we see Crosby again this season?
Crosby showed the skills we remember in a short return to the ice, but do you expect a second return after he was sidelined again by concussion-like symptoms?
Will the old Sidney Crosby return?
Sidney Crosby will be on the ice when the Penguins play the Islanders. But after missing nearly a year with concussion-like symptoms, will the old Crosby ever return?
What about short-term expectations?
Crosby was averaging 1.6 points per game (32 goals, 34 assists in 41 games) when he left the lineup last season.
Are Penguins the team to beat?
The Penguins enter Monday's game tied with the Flyers for the most points in the Eastern Conference. Does Crosby's return clinch favorite status? Submit your Power Rankings.
Has someone else claimed throne?
Crosby hasn't played since Jan. 5, but did anyone do enough in his absence to claim the unofficial title of NHL's best player?
Sidney Crosby wasn't on the ice, but Thursday's game between the Penguins and Captials sure felt like a rivalry when Arron Asham and Jay Beagle dropped the gloves. Penguins tough guy Asham took exception to Beagle's roughing penalty on Kris Letang. The ensuing fight left Beagle on the ice and Asham skating away making gestures suggesting he put his opponent to sleep. All fair by the code of hockey?
Example or embarrassment?
"Right there is what fighting is for. It was a message sent; there was a reason that fight happened. It wasn't just violence. It wasn't just two guys trying to put on a show." -- Barry Melrose
What about Asham's reaction?
The fight may have been part of the hockey code, but what about Asham's gestures as he skated away and Beagle lay on the ice?
What is fighting's future?
The NHL has cracked down on hits to the head during the course of play, but will fights like Thursday's ever be eliminated?
What about the Pens and Caps?
By the way, the Capitals beat the Penguins 3-2 in overtime to remain perfect and hand their otherwise unbeaten rivals a second overtime loss.
We saw what happened when the Colts lost their franchise player, but are the Penguins offering a counter to that lesson? The Penguins improved to 3-0-1 with Tuesday's win against the Panthers and did without Evgeni Malkin for a second consecutive game. Not bad considering they were already without Sidney Crosby, right? Rank 'Em: Your NHL Power Rankings?
Break up the Penguins?
Without Crosby and with a limited Malkin, the Penguins have goals from 10 players through four games, including three from professional agitator Matt Cooke.
Still a championship foundation?
Crosby and Malkin guided the Pens to the Cup in 2009, but Malkin has missed a bunch of games in recent seasons and Crosby's post-concussion issues are well known.
Does Thursday's game still matter?
The Penguins and Capitals renew their rivalry Thursday, but if Crosby isn't on the ice to battle Alex Ovechkin, is it still a rivalry that matters?
We can understand if you don't want to take the time to grade your tech-support help on the other end of the telephone, but when we're talking about the dollars and emotion you've invested in sports, we think it's worth the effort. It's time for ESPN The Magazine's Ultimate Standings, in which SportsNation grades organizations on everything from ticket prices and stadium experience to the talent on the field, court or rink. Which team will end up on top this year? It depends on what you say.
Take part in the 2011 MLB survey
2010 MLB Ultimate Standings
1. Los Angeles Angels (Overall: No. 3)
2. Tampa Bay Rays (Overall: No. 6)
3. Colorado Rockies (Overall: No. 13)
4. Minnesota Twins (Overall: No. 14)
5. Atlanta Braves (Overall: No. 15)
Take part in the 2011 NFL survey
2010 NFL Ultimate Standings
1. New Orleans Saints (Overall: No. 1)
2. Indianapolis Colts (Overall: No. 4)
3. Green Bay Packers (Overall: No. 9)
4. Arizona Cardinals (Overall: No. 19)
5. Baltimore Ravens (Overall: No. 20)
Take part in the 2011 NBA survey
2010 NBA Ultimate Standings
1. Orlando Magic (Overall: No. 2)
2. San Antonio Spurs (Overall: No. 7)
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (Overall: No. 10)
4. Dallas Mavericks (Overall: No. 24)
5. Oklahoma City Thunder (Overall: No. 25)
Take part in the 2011 NHL survey
2010 NHL Ultimate Standings
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (Overall: No. 5)
2. Detroit Red Wings (Overall: No. 8)
3. Washington Capitals (Overall: No. 11)
4. San Jose Sharks (Overall: No. 12)
5. Chicago Blackhawks (Overall: No. 16)