Before we get into the nuts and bolts of this blog, here’s a quick recap of how last night went down for the Penguins in a potentially series-clinching Game 6 at home against the Capitals:
Not ideal to say the least. In typical fashion (this series, relatively speaking), the Capitals dominated the hell out of the Penguins again last night with shots (26 to 18) and puck possession. Only this time they were rewarded for their efforts. The Penguins picked a bad time to play their worst game of the playoffs, and now all of a sudden there’s real reason to worry in Pittsburgh. What once appeared to be a sure series victory, now appears as if the Penguins could very well be exiting the postseason after Round 2 this year. Everyone’s beginning to point fingers as to why things haven’t been going the Penguins’ way over the past two games. Kris Letang’s absence is becoming evident on the blue line, the team looks tired, and Marc Andre Fleury seems to be losing some of his steam. But most importantly, Sidney Crosby just hasn’t looked the same since returning less than a week from his second concussion in eight months.
Crosby’s managed only 4 shots on goal and 2 assists in 39:07 of ice time since his return on Saturday. He’s looked hesitant, his passes on the power play have been abnormally sloppy, and on top of everything, he took another brutal hit to the head last night.
Look, we can all get into the specifics about whether or not the NHL concussion spotters did their job right or not, but the bottom line is this didn’t look good. I don’t care whether or not the NHL has a loophole that states a player has to hit his head off of another player or the ice in order to qualify as a potential concussion, it doesn’t sound safe to me to see a player fly into the boards (that barely have any give to begin with) at full speed, head first. Not to mention, a player that was concussed literally a week prior. At some point the NHL needs to start considering the health (both short and long-term) of Sidney Crosby the human, and not just Sidney Crosby the player. He’s a once in a lifetime athlete and all, but it would be horribly tragic to hear about Sidney Crosby experiencing mood swings and memory loss in twenty years all because the NHL had a flawed protocol to protect their players from head injuries.