I had certain expectations for Sidney Crosby's return:
1: Sid would dominate like he always does.
2: Malkin would disappear again.
3: The Pens would not be as dominant as people expected.
Turns out I was wrong on all three. Not that Sid isn't dominating, just not like he always does. Take Crosby's own words after the Ranger game:
"I was pretty excited last time. I was excited this time, too, but I didn’t want to get caught doing too much," Crosby said. "Just making sure I was responsible out there, doing the right things. All those details are important in games like this."
The key words for me are "Caught doing too much." See, I think Sid has an opportunity to adapt his game, tweak his style and approach a little bit and become an even better player than he was before.
Sid has always been able to take over the game, he can control it all by himself, and while I don't think he is a bad teammate, I think he has never outgrown that style. He always pushes the tempo, always forces the action. The problem is his line-mates have had a hard time keeping up. Players on Sid's line don't see big bumps in goals for them, they have traditionally been the on-ice witnesses to the Sid show. But that looks to be changing.
Maybe Cooke's four goals in two games are a fluke, maybe the other team is screwing up or he's just getting lucky, that is a possibility. I am hoping that we are seeing before our eyes the evolution of Sidney Crosby from the best player in the league who shines all by himself to the type of great player that makes his line-mates great.
Micheal Jordan learned that lesson, and he went from carrying his team to the playoffs to winning 6 championships, Wilt Chamberlain learned it and won his. I don't think Sid has that much to learn, he is a great captain already and has his name on the cup. Maybe all Sid needs to do is slow down a bit and let the game come to him. Maybe he needs to learn to fit his considerable talent into the line, instead of his teammates desperately trying to keep up with him.
I can't tell you what the difference is, if I could I'd be coaching hockey, not typing this. What I can tell you is I think Sid the third line center is quite possibly a more dangerous opponent than Sid the first line center was. I hope I'm right, because I don't see anyone beating us if Sid can turn Matt Cooke into a goal scorer.