Monday Daily Puck: Crosby Restores Order in Hockey Universe

Monday Daily Puck: Crosby Restores Order in Hockey Universe

This article is part of our The Daily Puck series.

Around the Rink

What's gotten into Sidney Crosby? One would think that losing Evgeni Malkin for the rest of the regular season would put a damper on Pittsburgh's scoring ability. Opponents could focus on shutting down Crosby's line. That hasn't been the case. The team has gotten scoring from the likes of Carl Hagelin on the second line, with the third and fourth lines chipping in for secondary scoring.

For his part, Crosby has proved the legion of early-season doubters wrong. Whether it's because of the coaching change, the system change, whatever, there's no denying No. 87 is playing some of his best hockey in recent memory.

Sunday night on the NHL Network, a graphic showed the comparison in scoring between Alexander Ovechkin and Crosby since Jan. 1. The results favor Pittsburgh's captain.

Crosby has 22 goals, 27 assists and a plus-18 rating in 35 games while Ovechkin has scored 21 goals, eight assists with a plus-2 rating.
Here's a visual history snippet between the two stars.

Granted, the Capitals dominated the Eastern Conference prior to the turn of the calendar year like no other. Very few teams stay "on" through the NHL's laborious 82-game, six-month slate.

The rivalry between Crosby and Ovie didn't start this year or last year. It pretty much began the moment the two stepped on the ice and the Washington star nudged Pittsburgh's star in the scoring race, 106 points to 102 points, respectively, in their rookie campaigns of 2005-06.
The two talents feature different games: Crosby is a playmaker while Ovechkin is a pure goal scorer. That said, comparisons between the two probably won't stop until they retire.

The playoffs loom and the Capitals have their best chance ever to win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has turned its season around and presents a stiff challenge to any team it plays in the postseason.

Crosby and Ovechkin?

The only thing that really matters is the number of Stanley Cup rings a player earns and Crosby leads Ovie in that race by the scoring of one to nothing.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid

Florida Panthers (Roberto Luongo) at New York Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist), 7:00 PM
Philadelphia Flyers (Steve Mason) at New York Islanders (Thomas Greiss), 7:30 PM
Calgary Flames (Jonas Hiller) at Toronto Maple Leafs (Jonathan Bernier), 7:30 PM
Los Angeles Kings (Jonathan Quick) at Nashville Predators (Pekka Rinne), 8:00 PM

Injury News For Teams Playing Monday

Florida Panthers

Willie Mitchell, D - (lower body) missed Saturday.
Derek MacKenzie, C - (foot) out Monday.
Dave Bolland, C - (lower body) on IR.
Erik Gudbranson, D - (lower body) out Monday.

New York Rangers
Dylan McIlrath, D - (knee) out Monday.

Philadelphia Flyers
Michal Neuvirth, G - Out next three weeks.
Michael Del Zotto, D - (wrist) out Monday.
Chris VandeVelde, C - (suspension) out Monday.

New York Islanders
Marek Zidlicky, D - (upper body) will miss Monday.
Adam Pelech, D - (undisclosed) likely out again Monday.
Jaroslav Halak, G - (groin) out til late April.
Mikhail Grabovski, C - (undisclosed) out Monday.

Calgary Flames
Ladislav Smid, D - (upper body) on IR.
Karri Ramo, G - (ACL) out rest of season.
Deryk Engelland, D - (personal) missed Sunday due to birth of child.
Dennis Wideman, D - (triceps) out rest of season.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Viktor Loov, D - (undisclosed) questionable for Monday.
Nikita Soshnikov, LW - (upper body) will sit out Monday's game.
James van Riemsdyk, LW - (foot) out rest of 2015-16.
Tyler Bozak, C - (head) could return Thursday.
Matt Hunwick, D - (hernia) out rest of season.
Stephane Robidas, D - (knee) out rest of 2015-16.
Raffi Torres, LW - (knee) out rest of season.
Brad Boyes, RW - (undisclosed) questionable for Monday.
Joffrey Lupul, LW - L(abdomen) out Monday.

Los Angeles Kings
Marian Gaborik, RW - (knee) could be back before end of regular season.
Kris Versteeg, RW - (undisclosed) likely out Monday.

Nashville Predators
Anthony Bitetto, D - (lower body) missed Friday.
Eric Nystrom, LW - (foot) recalled Sunday.
Paul Gaustad, C - (upper body) missed recent four-game roadtrip.

Hot

Reid Boucher, RW, NJD – Boucher hasn't made the leap to NHL star the way some envisioned a couple seasons ago. Now 23, the forward has collected seven goals and 15 points in 31 contests. He's also scored two goals and five points in his last seven games. Most young players don't rocket straight to stardom in linear fashion. Boucher potted 62 goals in 68 OHL games in 2012-13. He's worth keeping an eye on to see how he closes out the season as he could turn into a reliable offensive producer.

Vince Trocheck, C, FLA – The Pittsburgh native has scored 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in his last 13 games. For the season, Trocheck has compiled 22 goals and 49 points in 72 games, including 13 points (four goals, nine assists) on the man advantage. The center is part of a strong Panthers' core. There's reason to expect the 22-year-old to continue producing as his game matures at the NHL level. Trocheck has already exceeded expectations, considering some believes his numbers would look like a third-line forward's numbers.

Cold

Dustin Byfuglien, D, WPG – Everybody knows how talented Big Buff is, but the flu he's battled recently has put him on the "Cold" list. While he has two assists in his last seven games, he holds a minus-10 rating! Granted, the plus-minus category doesn't carry the weight it once did as a measure of a player, but if your fantasy league uses it as a category then Byfuglien is killing your numbers. At this point, teams have to expect a turnaround any game now, but the big blueliner has a lot of making up to do in the last couple weeks.

Recommended Pickup

Robby Fabbri, C, STL – Fabbri has shown tremendous growth as a 20-year-old rookie. The center has two goals and nine points in his last games, adding to his second half total of 17 points in 21 post All-Star break tilts. Before the ASG, Fabbri collected 18 points in his first 46 NHL contests. He not only makes for a great keeper, but he also can help a fantasy team down the stretch. Fabbri is only owned in 5 percent of Yahoo! Leagues.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Toperzer
John has written for Rotowire.com since 2003 and serves as the beat writer for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s worked for the Pirates for 17 years, written for the Penguins’ Web site as the first game-day editor, and rooted for the Steelers dating back to the Immaculate Reception.
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