On Monday night, the much anticipated return of Pittsburgh Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby from a 10th month absence due to a concussion took place at Consol Energy Center, and wound up being of the story book variety.
Crosby scored a little over five minutes into the game and finished with a game high four points (2g, 2a) as the Penguins rolled the New York Islanders, 5-0.
It was a return reminiscent of the returns of the guy that brought Crosby into the organization; Mario Lemiuex. Lemiuex returned from long absences several times in his career and each time left hockey fans saying "how does this guy do it?"
Crosby did the same on Monday which caused hockey analyst, namely Barry Melrose, to proclaim the Penguins as the favorite to win the Eastern Conference.
I say everyone, fans and analyst, need to relax. Crosby's return was fantastic and showed why he is arguably the best player in the world let alone the NHL. But, Crosby and the Penguins were playing with a bit more emotion then usual on Monday and the Islander are still among the weakest teams in the league.
Reality set in a bit on Wednesday for Crosby and the Penguins against the St. Louis Blues. Crosby was held scoreless while being whistled for three minor penalties. The Blues also showed no mercy to Crosby as he and Blues center David Backes mixed it up along the boards in the second period.
There is no doubt Crosby's return is a big deal. But, if anyone thinks he is going to pick up where he left off last season I would suggest taking some time to reflect on that sentiment.
Missing 10 months of live game action isn't something that a player overcomes in a few games; even a player as great as Crosby. I understand he has been practicing with the team for several months and has played with his linemates for several season's now.
But, live game action and conditioning can not be replicated and gained in practice. It is going to take some time for Crosby to get back in the flow of playing. Will it take long? I don't think so, but it's not going to happen in a couple of games.
It appears Crosby isn't playing tentative as he flew around the ice on Monday and absored a few big hits from the Islanders. He also didn't shy away from Backes.
The Penguins are without question one of the leagues top teams and Crosby one of it's top players. But, before anyone annoints the Penguins the conferences best team and Crosby back to old form, lets let a sufficient amount of time pass.
More then one game anyway.