1. What was your initial reaction to the hit on Crosby? Two minutes? Five? Dirty?
Initial reaction was disgust. The best player in the world has already lost a year of his prime to concussions. This could be the last we see of him.
I’ve since read a million takes (of both the hot and hotter variety), and watched that hit about 3,000 times. I’d say 5 minutes was the right call. Was it dirty? I don’t know. I don’t like to speculate what was in someone’s head. I doubt very seriously that Niskanen — a former teammate — wanted to put Crosby’s career (and life) in jeopardy. But did he want to pop him? Probably.
Hockey culture is terrible. It encourages fighting and boorishness. You and I have talked at length about this; I favor a ban on fighting, increased suspensions and — brace yourself — preferential treatment for star players. Say what you will about Roger Goodell (and I agree with all of it — including that he’s responsible for the eventual deaths of many NFL players), but at least he gets that football is a product and it’s a good thing to have stars showcased. Contrast that with this garbage league where the two best teams are playing in the second round, and arguably the game’s most recognizable figure is out indefinitely. That shit doesn’t happen in the NFL, and hockey is worse because of it.
I know I’m in the incredibly minority with this stuff. To that point, I hope the Pens don’t try to hurt Niskanen. They will. But I hope they don’t.
2. If Crosby or Conor Sheary miss any time, who takes their place and what impact would they have?
Josh Archibald and Oskar Sundqvist were recalled. They’re … I don’t know … fine? Look, the Penguins have had a lot of success calling up young guys over the last two years, but I can’t imagine they’ll do much of anything. I mean, what do I know? Is this what postseason despair is like?
3. How long should Hornqvist be suspended for that hit on Sheary?
4. What do Pittsburgh fans think of the Cole hit on Wilson in game 2 and Malkin hit on Winnik in game 3?
Probably liked it. See above. I don’t especially remember the Malkin hit (I was in a bit of a daze), but the Cole hit was brutal. How the referee just stood there, I don’t know. It’s a really stupid league.
5. Marc-Andre Fleury has been amazing so far. Can he sustain this level of play? If he has a bad game does he fall apart or can he recover?
He needs to. Not to be all chicken little about this, but despite the Penguins surviving both Letang and Murray going down, Crosby is just an entirely different story. Fleury needs to be transcendent if the Penguins have any hope of winning.
6. Rob Rossi wrote an idiotic “article” claiming that the Caps closed-door meeting after Game 2 was used to plan how to take out Crosby and that Ovi should be suspended for the rest of the playoffs. Please tell me that everyone in Pittsburgh thinks he’s a clown.
I mean, he’s obviously a clown. I don’t think all that highly of most sports columnists, but this was especially egregious. Click-bait, red meat for dummies, garage-league shit.
7. What do you expect for the rest of the series?
I expect the Penguins to give a lot of effort and to make it close, but it’s over. Maybe they eek out one more game, but I say Caps win out.
Bonus: I have a question for you!
Say Crosby remains out and the Caps go on to win it all. Do you think some part of Caps fans will always think there is a tiny asterisk to go along with that?
The Steelers won two championships while I’ve been alive, and both happened without having to face Tom Brady. I remember at the time some journalist saying that it will gnaw at Pittsburgh fans a bit. I thought that was stupid, and enjoyed the hell out of both victories. But now several years later, yes, that’s absolutely right. Those wins are a bit tainted.
But maybe I’m just projecting. Would love to get your thoughts.
I nearly asked you the asterisk question, but as a Caps fan I’m not even close to giving us this series, much less the Cup. But since you asked …
The Steelers analogy doesn’t work. You’ve won six Super Bowls. You might not know this, but the Capitals have never won the Stanley Cup. Ever. Not even with Alex Ovechkin.
If, by some miracle, it were to happen this year it would be one of the greatest moments of my life as a sports fan. I know Pittsburgh and the hockey media would consider it illegitimate and never let us forget how it happened. My guess is that would bug me every time it was mentioned — but I sure hope I get to find out.
I hate that he has another head injury. I’ve had over a dozen concussions in my lifetime, most long before doctors even cared about them. My doctor told my mom to stop bringing me in for them. We know better now.
Despite the fact that I dislike Crosby greatly, I love hockey and truly hope he’s OK. But none of us can change the fact that he isn’t playing tonight, and given his history he’s probably not playing again this year.
Really, all I’m trying to say is: I would much rather win a Stanley Cup with an alleged asterisk than never win one at all.