Coincidence or not, Crosby on fire since Semin's comments
Because, whether it's coincidence or not, Sidney Crosby has been absolutely on fire since Semin's controversial comments about the Penguins captain just as November began. (I blogged about Semin's comments here.)
The 21-year-old star center had 21 points (10-11) in 12 November games, rocketing up the NHL scoring race to second behind overall leader and teammate Evgeni Malkin.
"Everything is coming together a little bit more," Crosby told us media hacks on a NHL conference call Monday. "I feel like I've played better and been rewarded for that."
The NHL's first star of the week award of the season was a no-brainer. Crosby had nine points (6-3) in three games and 34 points (13-21) in 23 games, second to Malkin's 39 points (10-29).
It just so happens Malkin and Crosby have been on-again, off-again, on-again linemates over the last few weeks as Penguins coach Michel Therrien alters his lines depending on matchups. (The pair played together for a five-game stretch in early November, but have recently found themselves back together when Therrien is looking for a goal in the third period.)
"It's a lot of fun," Crosby said of playing with No. 71. "I think we've got used to each other. We've played together for a while now. We enjoy it. It's one of those things where hopefully teams will focus on one of us and the other guy will get a little more space."
In his fourth NHL season, Crosby is on pace for 46 goals and 121 points, which would both be NHL bests for him. He's been more of an assist guy since entering the league, although his 39 goals in his rookie season are nothing to sneeze at. He already has 13 goals this season.
"Capitalizing on chances and getting a few more chances," Crosby said in trying to explain his scoring surge. "I've played with Gino a few times, too, and that doesn't hurt."
He was asked about the magical 50-goal barrier.
"It's not something I think about a whole lot," Crosby said. "I don't consider myself a sniper, per say. You look at the guys who score 50, guys like [Dany] Heatley and [Alex] Ovechkin. But you never know. ... It'd be something I'd love to do for sure, but whether or not it's possible, I really couldn't tell you."
Here's what we do know. After a slow start to the season, both Crosby and Ovechkin are once again piling up points for their respective teams (Ovechkin was named the "first star" for the month of November).
All is right again in the hockey world.
A dream Cup finals?
Lots of hockey to be played over the next six months, but sign me up for a Stanley Cup finals matchup that pits the current conference leaders -- Boston and San Jose. Joe Thornton against his former team!
A rematch of last season would also be tantalizing, Pittsburgh against Detroit. Aside from the obvious revenge factor for the Penguins, you'd also have Marian Hossa trying to stick it to his former team and proving he made the right decision to go to Hockeytown.
Montreal-Detroit or Rangers-Red Wings have the nice Original Six flavor to them. Those would be good ones, too.
A good cause
Over the weekend, the NHL Players' Association launched an online charity auction at www.eBay.ca to support the Luc Bourdon Memorial Fund.
"All proceeds raised will support scholarships and various youth related initiatives in honor of Luc Bourdon," the NHLPA said Monday in a release. "The auction features one-of-a-kind hockey memorabilia donated by NHLPA members, NHL clubs and various hockey organizations. Notable items donated to the auction include a Sidney Crosby autographed stick, Nicklas Lidstrom and Saku Koivu autographed jerseys, and NHL team signed jerseys. The Vancouver Canucks, Bourdon's former team, donated numerous auction items, including Roberto Luongo's blocker and glove and an autographed Luongo jersey."
Bourdon, a Vancouver Canucks defenseman, died tragically last May when his motorcycle struck a tractor-trailer in a crash near his hometown. He was 21.