COMMENTARY| A lot can be made of how important the play of Marc-Andre Fleury was going to be for the Pittsburgh Penguins to be successful in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and while the importance of goaltending can not be understated in the playoffs, the big guys on the team need to answer the bell.
That being said, the four assists that Sidney Crosby has managed to accumulate in the first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets should lead a lot of folks to ask: What’s wrong with Sid?
Never mind that those four assists match fellow Penguins star center Evgeni Malkin’s, or that Paul Martin is the team’s highest scorer in the playoffs so far (he was leading the league at press time with 8A), because Sidney Crosby is the captain of this team and he needs to perform.
Maybe all the games played in Sochi are starting to take their toll. Malkin should not be left out of the conversation as well, because he is also a leader on this Penguins team, and he also played in the Olympics. That one startling statistic sums up how this first round series with Columbus has gone for the Penguins, Paul Martin has as many points as Malkin and Crosby combined. Never thought you’d see that eh?
Hey winning Stanley Cups is hard work. Wayne Gretzky only managed to do it four times and he was the greatest player the NHL has ever seen, Pittsburgh legend Mario Lemieux only managed to do it twice. Crosby and company have done it once, but when he was drafted multiple Stanley Cups were no doubt the goal.
Crosby has put up 109 points in 86 playoff games and Malkin has 101 in 81, according to NHL.com, which means they know how to score in the post season. However the Blue Jackets have managed to shut down two of the most skilled centers in the NHL, and also managed to make a feared power play look completely abysmal most of the time it is on the ice.
So when folks are lining up to take shots at Fleury for a bad bounce (granted it was a huge bad bounce) the puck took, they should also remember that when $17.4 million of cap money, according to CapGeek.com, brings in a combined eight points through four games your team might not be on the right end of the series breakdown.
The Penguins are lucky to be tied 2-2 with Columbus, because the Blue Jackets are playing solid playoff hockey. The team from Ohio is making the star studded Pittsburgh lineup look mediocre at best. If one of the teams deserves a spot in the second round, then the Columbus Blue Jackets get my vote. Of course, there is a reason the Stanley Cup Playoffs are a best of seven format, and Sid and company have at least two more chances to get on track.