Let’s not beat around the bush on this little piece of news: earlier today, the Pittsburgh Penguins official twitter feed let it be known:
BREAKING NEWS: Sidney Crosby will play Thursday against the New York Rangers. #Pens
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@pghpenguins) March 13, 2012
And just like that, The Kid returns.
Crosby’s return means that the Penguins will finally be rocking their 1-2-3 punch down the middle of Malkin, Crosby and Staal. So who will his linemates be for this momentous occasion?
Let’s go to the Twitter feed of the Penguins writer for the Tribune-Review, Josh Yohe:
Crosby expected to play on line with Cooke and Kennedy. A little surprising.
— Josh Yohe (@JoshYohe_Trib) March 13, 2012
Whoa. Did not see that coming.
My initial thought was that the Penguins don’t have a ton of gritty players, and these two are quick to engage down low, meaning Sid wouldn’t have to do as much of the dirty work in his first game back. Plus, if things get physical, Kennedy and Cooke would stick up for Crosby (despite being small and not really fighters, you know they would).
But the more I think about it, the more it comes down to something much more obvious: ice time.
You can’t put him on the first line with Malkin and expect him to eat 20 minutes-plus in his first game back. Then you end up with the hassle of subbing someone in for him every other shift, and it complicates your bench.
This will be perfect – he can eat third line time of 10-15 minutes, and join the first powerplay unit to tack on another few. That’s all he needs to work himself back into the flow.
It’ll be a little different than his first return, when he came back and faced the New York Islanders and a goalie who had never played in an NHL game before. The Rangers are the best team in the East, and have the League’s best goalie in net.
This is a battle we’re all excited to see – the 1st place Rangers versus the surging Pens.
It should be even better now that Crosby will be in the fold so we can judge how these two teams stack up when healthy.