It has been a long time coming for the Penguins star center, so long in fact some have wondered if he was healthy enough to play months ago. The fact of the matter is, Crosby is the sport’s best player. His coach, Pittsburgh’s management and the NHL have taken every precaution to limit the possibility of further injury. The league cannot afford to have another situation like the one Marc Savard is still suffering through.
When a player returns from a long-term injury the opposing team will go out of their way to pressure him and play more physically against him. This was the case when Eric Lindros returned from a concussion and was re-injured by none other than Scott Stevens. This will not happen to Sidney Crosby.
Crosby is tougher and more physical than most think. Unlike Lindros, Crosby always has his head up, and is a much better skater. Crosby will be aware on the ice and his teammates will be watch him closely.
The Penguins and Islanders have built a fierce rivalry and the Isles will hit him early. If I were Dan Bylsma I wouldn’t skate Sid against Matt Martin, not even for one shift. I would also expect the Penguins to give their hard-nosed defenseman Deryk Engelland a bit more ice-time with Crosby. If New York tries any funny stuff Engelland will be there to answer the bell.
I don’t think anything too crazy will happen tonight, especially since the game is in Pittsburgh, but I do expect Crosby to have a tremendous game. The league has been waiting a long time for this night and Sid the Kid will deliver.