Sidney Crosby is back

USA TODAY Sports

The lockout may have been a blessing in disguise for Sidney Crosby, who's on a six game scroing streak helping the Pittsburgh Penguins to their current five game winning streak. A look at how and why Crosby has picked up where he left off two seasons ago when he was shredding the NHL.

Every time Sidney Crosby received a pass in the neutral zone a heart skipped a beat. Every time he battled along the boards or wall, maybe it was hard to remember to breathe.

The concussion/neck issue that held Crosby out for almost all of 2011 seemed like it was behind Crosby when he returned in November, with a huge exclamation coming in the form of huge backhander goal in his first game against the Islanders. But then just seven games later, Crosby and Boston forward David Krejci collided while competing for a puck. It was a normal hockey play that happens hundreds of times a game. Except, this time, it wasn’t.

Crosby would return to the shelf for three more months, and then no one knew what to expect when he returned. Would this player be troubled by recurring issues for the rest of his career, ala Eric Lindros as a young star robbed of years and years of a promising career?

When he returned in March, Crosby showed signs of his old self and proved that he could play every game down the stretch when hockey is at its most physical, as it was in the playoff series against the Flyers. A series, we might note that Crosby scored a goal in the very beginning of Game 2, then didn’t score a goal again off his stick (he would score a goal in Game 4, but it was a deflected Matt Niskanen point-shot off Crosby’s back).

In some ways, maybe the lockout was a good thing. All told it gave Crosby an 8+ month layoff to train, rest and almost certainly recover from the problems that plagued him in 2011 and lingered into March of 2012 when he returned to the lineup for good. Now, in the shortened 2012-13 season, Sidney Crosby is starting to look like the dominant player that was terrorizing the league. Crosby had 66 points in 41 games (32 goals, 34 assists) and was on pace for the highest scoring total in years before the ill-fated Winter Classic.

Now Sid has a six-game point scoring streak and 17 points (5 goals, 12 assists) in 11 games is good for third in the league and puts him four points back of the red-hot Tomas Vanek in the scoring race. During this current five game Penguin winning streak Crosby is announcing to the rest of the conference that he’s healthy and ready to resume the domination he was putting on the hockey world two years ago, when the Pens were on a great winning streak, Crosby was on a point scoring streak and growing that crusty mustache and HBO cameras were documenting it all for 24/7.

And, is it just me, or does it look like there’s a little dirt on Sid’s lip these days?

It’s a wonderful and remarkable recovery, and fun to watch Sidney Crosby have fun playing hockey again. No longer is a Penguin fan so mindful of his past when his present is unfolding without limits. Anything could happen in the future, including a head injury- it’s a fact that concussions re-occur easier and easier the more damage that is done. Crosby may never be “out of the woods” for the future, but at least bumps like the Krejci incident aren’t costing him three months at a time. Sidney Crosby is back and the Pittsburgh Penguins are rolling. It took two plus years and a draining lockout, but the road ahead looks a lot better than the one travelled.

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