The Sid-Ovie surprise, Canucks' not-so-hard road, more notes
The topic of the day, class, is which is more surprising:
(You there, in the back of the class. Stop smirking! If you are Ovie-ed out or can't abide another word about the erstwhile Sid the Kid -- gracious, he's 22 and totally legal, so banish that Kid stuff -- pack up your books and go home. They are the two most dynamic and significant players of the post-lockout generation. You couldn't ignore Jack and Arnie if you came to golf in the 1960s or Magic, Bird and MJ if you studied basketball in the 1980s. Same deal with these guys.)
Now, where were we? Yes, are you more stunned that a brilliant playmaker like Crosby has one more goal (37, albeit in eight more games) than Ovechkin or that he has seven fewer assists than Ovechkin's 41?
Let's start with Ovechkin's assists. In his first four seasons, he had 201 while scoring 219 goals. In only his rookie season did he record more goals (52) than assists (54). The knock on Ovechkin always has been his inability to maximize his teammates. The criticism has been valid, to a point, but the inference was way out of whack.
Ovechkin really never has been a selfish player; he delights in a goal, whether he or one of his teammates scores it. He just happens to have the Rocket Richard Trophy ability to create his own space and get off his shot. Strength, speed and imagination will do that for a fellow.
Ovechkin is using his teammates better this season, but the primary difference is that they have grown with him -- especially center
Crosby is now two goals from his previous best. He should crack 40 before the Olympic break and is on pace for 50-plus. This might come as a shock, but only if you spent last April, May and June mowing your lawn and missing the playoffs.
In an extraordinary display of will last spring, Crosby changed his game by turning himself into a scorer. If you laid his playoff goals end to end -- to borrow
Given the makeup of his Penguins, Crosby is simply spreading putty over the one obvious crack. Like a guy who juggles knives, general manager
So to sum up: on balance we think Crosby's lead in goals over Ovechkin is more surprising than Ovechkin's advantage in assists, but does anything these guys do still have the power to shock us?
If you choose to look only on the face of it, then yes, the Canucks are two games into an NHL-record 14-game, almost 13,000-mile road trip that began in late January and will not conclude until some six weeks later, after the Olympics and Paralympics have vacated one of North America's great cities and GM Place is again called GM Place.
The last time a winter road trip seemed this daunting,
Anyway. before handing the Canucks the
Montreal has slithered into seventh in the East's logjam of teams on the playoff cusp -- three spots, eight contenders -- because of quality goaltending and an efficient power play. Of course, counting on stellar performances from
So why are the Canadiens absolute wizards with a man-advantage (and four-on-four), but not when playing five-on-five? The easy answer is open ice. Lilliput's Team has some skill, but it simply isn't big or strong enough to be creative with the puck without having extra room on the ice. When the game is cruising along five on five, the rink seems a tad claustrophobic for Montreal.
You would think having won a Stanley Cup would look sweet on a coach's curriculum vitae, but
With the success of straight-from-the-AHL men such as