God Damned Thread: Leafs vs Penguins (7:30 p.m., TSN)

Nazem Kadri hit Paul Martin
Photo: Global Regina

Tuesday was a pretty good day for the Penguins all around. Pittsburgh will try to keep the good times going this evening and extend its eight-game win streak with a home-and-home sweep of the hosting Toronto Maple Leafs.

Yesterday began with the Penguins seeming to have zeroed in on what is exactly wrong with superstar captain Sidney Crosby. The club announced that the former Hart Trophy winner has a soft tissue injury in his neck with no evidence of a past or present neck fracture according to an independent specialist. That ailment could be what is causing the 24-year-old his neurological symptoms, as they are similar to that of a concussion.

Crosby missed 61 straight games after suffering a concussion last January and returned to action in late November for eight games before again getting shut down due to the return of his symptoms. He has missed Pittsburgh’s last 22 games, but found Tuesday’s news to be encouraging.

“I think the biggest thing to take from it is that it’s something I can work on. I can come in and get my neck worked on,” Crosby said. “There’s a pretty big possibility that could be causing some of the issues. So I really hope that’s the case and hope with some treatment that it’ll improve and that’s hopefully the end of it. But I think being able to work on that and not sitting around hoping to get rid of the symptoms, it’s nice to kind of have some information and go with it.”

The rest of the Pittsburgh organization probably agrees and the players on the ice continued to play well without Crosby, posting a 5-4 shootout win over visiting Toronto in last night’s opener of this home-and-home.

More from The Score

The Leafs look forward to getting their power play quarter back tonight with the addition of John-Michael Liles. His ability to move the puck, walk the line and get opposing forwards scrambling gives the Leafs a totally different look on the power play that we have been missing desperately since he went down with a concussion injured.

Colby Armstrong is also back, but his inclusion is a little more curious as he has only played 7 games this season and energy players typically take a little longer to get back to playing their game with the same confidence. Perhaps Armstrong should have been practicing a little longer before he was brought back into the lineup. I didn’t say rushed, as that would be questioning the medical staff, but you have to wonder about his effectiveness as a checker (with some offensive ability) when he can’t stake fearlessly in to the dangerous parts of the ice. It will be interesting to see how he fairs this evening. I’m sure that Ron Wilson will keep his shifts short.

The Leafs did a lot of things right last night, and it will be on the coaching staff and leaders in the dressing room to try to keep spirits lifted and focus on the things that went right after the three goal collapse. The Leafs used their speed to great effect and will look to pick up where they left off, albeit hopefully with a different result.

James Reimer steps back between the pipes for the Leafs.


On another note.

It’s always cute when a washed up Toronto Maple Leafs reporter—and who writes for the laughing stock of the hockey community—takes the time to mention the best Independent Maple Leafs website on the net.

How’s your photoblogging career treating you, Howie? Fingers crossed the National Post allows you to fly in the big plane again sometime soon. Beat reporters taking photos of their televisions just don’t have the same feel as someone that is actually at the game. Hugs & Kisses – MLHS