Zizing ‘Em up: Crosby says parity is increasing across the NHL
The teams have played on long win-loss streaks through the first five weeks of the season. Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins are a good example. After starting the season undefeated in regulation through five games (4-0-1), they went 0-6-1 from Oct. 24-Nov. 5.
For the Penguins captain, the differences between teams are as small as he has seen.
“I mean, I’m sure everybody has opinions about why, but it’s a very, very fine line between teams,” Crosby told NHL.com. “If you look at our situation, I think three or four of those seven games, we had multi-goal leads in the third period and didn’t come away with a point. So there’s been a lot of turnovers and turnovers. It’s a fine line to lose, and I think it shows that way.”
Consider the number of losing streaks that have lasted at least five games in the NHL through the first five weeks:
— The St. Louis Blues started 3-0 and then lost eight straight games from Oct. 24-Nov. 8.
— The Calgary Flames started 5-1-0, then lost seven straight (0-5-2) before defeating the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.
— The Columbus Blue Jackets lost five straight (0-5-0) from Oct. 25-Nov. 5.
— The Nashville Predators were 0-4-1 from Oct. 13-22.
— The Ottawa Senators ended a seven-game skid (0-6-1) with a 4-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.
— The San Jose Sharks have lost five straight twice already: Oct. 7-18 (0-5-0) and Oct. 29-Nov. 10 (0-2-3).
— The Vancouver Canucks started the season without a win in their first seven games (0-5-2) from Oct. 12-27.
Consider this, too: The Penguins, Blues, Flames and Predators qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring and had high expectations for the 2022-23 season.
“There are so many little things and if one goes wrong, it could be the difference between winning and losing,” Crosby said. “It’s almost like playing in the playoffs early in the season. It’s so close.
“That’s what it looks like and that’s what it feels like. And the League records seem to reflect that.”
Brian Burke agrees with Crosby.
“The teams are so close, if you get in the game and get down for three or four nights, it can cost you,” the Penguins president said. “St. Louis is a mirror of our team. A good team with a good coach that has problems.
“You have to keep grinding. There’s nothing else you can do.”
SWEDEN’S BEST TEAM EVER?
The inductions of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Daniel Alfredsson this weekend mean there are seven Swedish-born players in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Defensemen Borje Salming and Nicklas Lidstrom, and forwards Mats Sundin and Peter Forsberg, joined the previous classes. If former New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist enters next year, his first year of eligibility, that number will be eight.
Interestingly, all but Salming helped Sweden win the gold medal at the 2006 Torino Olympics. Considering the talent of this squad, it might have been the greatest hockey team in Swedish history ?
It’s definitely up there.
“There have been a lot of great Swedish teams, but the fact that we win makes it so special,” Daniel Sedin said. “If we didn’t win, we wouldn’t be talking about this team, but we did, and that’s all that matters.
“It was special. It was an older group. It was the last time [Sundin, Forsberg and Lidstrom] they were together, and to beat them made it that much more special.”
“I can’t judge if it was the best, but we knew during the tournament it was probably the last time the older generation would be together,” he said. “To be able to win and go home to Sweden to celebrate, it was amazing. It was a special team.”
One of the most memorable aspects of the Global Series coverage between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche earlier this month was seeing Eurolanche members come out in force.
More than 70 of them came from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, England and nine other countries to watch the Avalanche play in Tampere, Finland. The Avalanche fan club based in Europe is the brainchild of David Puchovsky, who formed it 15 years ago.
“I started the club in 2007 when I was a student,” said the 34-year-old Slovakia player. “It was just a simple website to talk about supporting the team online for international fans. And from year to year, it’s changed a lot. So, like, 15 years later, we’ve had something like 12 trips to the foreigner [United States] see the avalanche as part of our history.”
The number of members in the club has increased to around 1,200 members, spread across Europe.
“The good thing is that not everyone can afford to go to America to watch games,” he said. “So the Global Series is a closer and much more affordable way to see the Avalanche play.”
In the end, they came out strong, enthusiastic and supportive as the Avalanche won both games. Great job all around.
Crosby, while disappointed, said he understands why the 2024 World Cup of Hockey was postponed because of a myriad of issues that need to be resolved. At the same time, the 35-year-old said he hopes to represent Canada on the international stage at least one more time and get the chance to play with Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers and Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche.
“I’ve had a chance to skate with both of them in the offseason and play against them, so being on the same team would be fun,” he said.
Crosby said Canada’s Olympic team coaching staff led by Jon Cooper had contemplated a Crosby-MacKinnon-McDavid lineup for the 2022 Beijing Olympics before the NHL pulled out over concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. Crosby told him.
“Yeah, I can adapt to the wing,” he said, laughing.
Crosby helped Canada win gold medals at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
“With a mustache too? That would be creepy.”
— Maple Leafs forward Austin Matthews about what it would be like to play with his identical twin, if he had one, like Henrik and Daniel Sedin did. For the record, Matthews said she always wanted a sibling, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Hall of Fame Friday weekend is always a special time, as inductees have the opportunity to receive their rings in the Great Hall, surrounded by the plaques of all who have been enshrined before them. So we asked Roberto Luongo, Daniel Sedin and Daniel Alfredsson: If there was one Hall of Famer you could meet, dead or alive, who would it be, even if you’ve met them before?
G Roberto Luongo: “My idol growing up was Grant Fuhr (Class of 2003), who was the star goaltender on those great Edmonton (Oilers) teams of the 1980s. Although I’ve met him a couple of times, I’ve never had. a conversation with him. To be here, to be a part of this, with him and all these great players, it’s amazing, very special.”
F Daniel Alfredsson: “There are so many. But I’m proud to be here with Mats Sundin. He’s only a year old, but he was three or four years ahead of my curve, he was a superstar right away and he was always useful when we were in the national team. But he was also very competitive and wouldn’t say hello or acknowledge me when we played against each other. At first I was offended. But then I learned to respect it. He would do anything for a team with which played..”
F Daniel Sedin: “Swedish players are special, no doubt. Mats Sundin was a guy we watched from afar when he was playing in Toronto, and then he came and played with us for a year in Vancouver. He was a guy we always looked up to . And to know that he was captaining another Canadian team in a Canadian market, well, it was great to play with him for a year.”
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