In Friday's game against the Lightning the Pens lost more than just a game.
They ended more than just a win streak and suffered more than just a shutout.
They lost their Captain, the league's point-leading marquee player, Sidney Crosby to a high-ankle sprain sustained early in the first period from a skate-first crash into the boards. The injury is expected to keep him sidelined for at least four weeks, six at the most. He also in turn relinquishes his spot on the All-Star team (as if that matters much right now) and puts his team in quite the predicament.
Beyond the "just tape it up" point...
So, where does this leave the Pens? I hope not where it left them last year when Sid was out with a groin injury for three games. In case you were wondering, the Pens went 0-3 in that span.
I'd expect Malkin to make the move to center on the first line with most likely Malone and Armstrong flanking him. Of course, Sykora wouldn't be a bad pick for a wing in that option as well. However, I'd expect Sykora is going to have to step up the action on the second line in order to provide some attempt at scoring depth.
PS - Jordan Staal. Now would be a good time to wake-up.
It's also not a long shot to expect someone like Ryan Stone to get some time on the ice now, perhaps as a fourth liner. If the Pens' method of replacing their goaltending situation was any evidence to the fact, then there will most likely be a paradigm shift across all lines to accomodate for Sid's absence.
Onto the game...
The first Tampa Bay shot of the game should've been enough evidence to what kind of night the Pens had in store for themselves. On a Sydor tip in the Pens' own zone, a stray shot nearly found its way into the net before Conklin shuffled his right pad forward to keep it out. Hardly any shots for the Pens in the first, not to mention two failed power plays. Former Penguin Andre Roy skated out of the first period with two helpers. In 2005 Roy had 2 goals and 1 assist for the Pens in 42 games.
Way to go.
Second period looked like the Pens could've turned it around a bit. They managed 10 shots on goal and held the Bolts to only 4. Even still, each seemed to find its way into Holmqvist's glove.
In the third period the Lightning notched another one. Who scored you ask? Andre Roy.
Way to go.
Roy's goal was the final nail in the coffin to give the Lightning the win and the Pens their second scoreless effort of the season.
What's with former Pens scoring goals on us? (See also: Mark Recchi)
Let's look at things on the bright side though. Conklin is still hot. So what if he suffered a loss today? It was his first loss of the season. He now holds a still-flattering 10-1-1 record. Similar to the holiday season, New Year's countdown and college days - all good things must come to an end.
It's now time for the rest of the Pens to pull themselves together and show they can operate without Sid.
Malkin and Sykora are going to have to step it up in the front.
Whitney and Letang have to get things going on the blue line.
Conklin has to stay hot in net.
It's not over Pensburgh fans, but it certainly isn't the best it can be. My only reservation on this entire situation is that Sid won't be on the ice to get the Flyers back in two weeks.
Pens @ Canadiens tomorrow.
Thoughts on this game? Canadiens game?