Last summer at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas, Sidney Crosby was not happy that the Penguins missed the finals and had an extended summer break. Based on comments he made, and the hunger that he showed, I picked the Pens to win the Stanley Cup.
Thursday night, Crosby had the first natural hat trick of his career as he single-handedly provided all the offense the Penquins needed in beating the Atlanta Thrashers 3-2. After a slow start, the Pens have now won eight in a row and are two points behind Washington in the East.
For the season Crosby has 21 goals and 23 assists which ranks him second in the league in each category, while he is first in points with 44. He is easily on pace to eclipse his best season in 2006-07 when he had 120 points.
All that being said, the "slew foot" play that Sidney made on Monday night in the game against the Rangers may have been the play of the year in the NHL to this point. There are several elements to consider.
First, Crosby is one of the few skaters in the game today physically capable of making the play. He skated down ice at full speed, came up beside an opponent that was trying to slow his pace, jabbed them with the but of the stick. and took them down to the ice without breaking stride.
Secondly, he never lost presence of where the puck was and where the play was headed as he glided into position in front of the Rangers net.
Finally, and most importantly, he managed to have Ryan Callahan called for a penalty to give his team a man advantage opportunity.
Crosby detractors spent the entire day Tuesday filling up the airwaves and Twitter streams complaining about the horrible injustice that had been done the night before.
What was missed was the shear beauty of the best all round player in the NHL today making an unusual move on his opponent to take him out of the play after Callahan had tried to slow Crosby's progress down the ice.
For the game, Crosby had one assist, a tripping penalty, and a 73.7% face off success in 19:53 minutes of play. The most important statistic was the 3-1 win for the Pens in a game that the Rangers had hoped to be their statement game.
The only statement that was made, was with Crosby's actions on the ice where he said that he would do whatever he had to do win the game. His compete level is the best in the NHL today. He has taken his game to a new higher level that was not expected. Sidney, alone, is the reason that no one else in the Eastern Conference will reach the finals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
In Pred Nation...
Steve Sullivan will be on NHL Live today between 11:00 and 1:00 at some point.
According to this rating system, the Predators have had the toughest schedule in the NHL so far.
3D Link takes a look at body contact and fan reaction in the NHL today.
Ryan Suter was on Puck Daddy Radio yesterday. Check it out.
In turn, Puck Daddy was on Paul McCann's SlapShot Radio last night.
With no practice yesterday, Josh Cooper had some leftover quotes from Wednesday. He also had good news about Predators' attendance. Josh also notes that the Predators' improved play is related to Ryan Suter's health.
Ryan Porth has a slightly dated article at The Fourth Period about the Preds offense (it was actually set for last Sunday). I'm sure we'll go through another swoon, so the same principals will apply then.
David Boclair discusses Colin Wilson's surge in the last few games.
Mark Willoughby has his weekly view at The View From 111. I don't think the term "subordinate clauses" will catch on.
Is Codey Franson really one of the top 23 NHL players making less that $1 million per year?
Bob Hunter says that the Predators' dominance over the Blue Jackets is coming to an end.
Referee Gord Dwyer who Codey Franson hit with a puck on Wednesday night, will be out for a few weeks with a facial fracture.
More delay's for Pekka's jersey as the Orlando Sentinel reporting that STS-133 will be delayed to no earlier than February, 2011, according to alleged sources.
At the start of this season, several new blogs popped up in Pred Nation but the one that has been most consistant and looks to be a long term commitment is Hockey Night in Nashville. If you haven't checked them out before, do so now, Robbie and Phillip are off to a great start.
Predlines and Fansided Network have teamed up to raise funs for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Read about it here.
Around the NHL...
Tim Rosenthal explains the dynamics of the Marco Sturm trade to Los Angeles for a conditional draft pick. The Bruins activated Marc Savard and romped Tampa Bay 8-1. After the game, the Bruins denied that Sturm had been traded.
Here is a great story about Jim Kelley's dedication to his passion up until his final hours. That is a real tribute to enjoyment of your profession when you know that time is short and you spend it doing what you are passionate about. It makes me pause and ponder if I would be capable of that myself. Dirk Hoag shared a portion of a letter that Pete Weber wrote and shared with several folks suggesting a "Jim Kelley Award" for excellence in journalism at the US Hockey Hall of Fame.
Brad Kurtzberg interviewed Garth Snow earlier this week and there must have been a no-Chris Botta question agreement because he didn't go there.
Adrian Dater looks at the blunder Chicago made when they sent Dustin Byfuglien to Atlanta.
THN takes a look at an odd list of players that went over the century mark in points but scored a minimal amount of goals in the process.
The ECHL Hall of Fame web site was relaunched yesterday. Here is the info.
Versus may get in on the Winter Classic bandwagon by broadcasting the game in 3D to the hundred or so folks who have the ability to receive a 3D broadcast over their cable or satellite.
Great question on Gary Bettman's radio show, "The NHL Hour" yesterday from @BizNasty2point0: @nhllive ask betman what hotel I'm staying at in Carolina for the All Star Game. Oh and can me and carcillo bunk together? The commish actually responded.
Odds and Ends...
NASA mad a big announcement yesterday that changes the definition of life as has been known since creation. They have created an alien life form from Mono Lake where we were a few months ago,. The most impressive thing about Mono was billions of flies that swarmed everywhere but would not land on people. Video available on request.
Here is a video that I made at Mono Lake in July with some serious Alien life form disguised as swarming black bugs.
The Sundance Film Festival revealed its complete list of films for this year's festival. We're hoping that there will be a remote viewing at the Belcourt in Nashville like last year.
If you are tired of waiting on hold for a CSR, LucyPhone does it for you and calls you when a live body shows up.
Here's what an out of town Roller Derby girl thought of watching the Predators play the Rangers.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass