While the Capitals took the first step to climbing out of their slump with a 4-3 win over Phoenix on Monday, the bulk of the hockey world was glued to Sidney Crosby’s return from a concussion after more than 10 months out of the Pittsburgh lineup.
Rivalry aside, Washington players said that they’re glad Crosby is back and that it’s a positive development for the league as a whole. Crosby recorded two goals and two assists in the Penguins’ 5-0 win over the Islanders.
“It’s pretty impressive, I’ve got to say. To see a guy that’s been out a couple months and just come back and have two goals and two assists,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “He’s probably the best player in the world. I think it’s good for the NHL.”
The Capitals will host the Penguins and Crosby next week on Dec. 1 in the teams’ first meeting since Oct. 13. While the struggle between the clubs with two of the league’s most publicized players at the forefront is pervasive, Washington players were still curious to know how Crosby fared.
Defenseman Karl Alzner even asked one of the Capitals’ athletic trainers to give him updates on Crosby during intermissions of the game against the Coyotes.
“I saw the highlights; that wasn’t a surprise. He’s pretty amazing,” Alzner said. “Sure enough, he’s one and one after the first and one and two after the second. It’s no surprise. He’s a great player, it’s nice to see that he’s back. All the guys in the league, probably 90 percent of the guys in the league, are happy he’s back.”
Roman Hamrlik reflected upon how to counteract Crosby when the Capitals see the Pittsburgh captain next Thursday.
“Don’t give him so much speed, try to keep him outside. He’s a superstar; he’s one of the best players in the league,” Hamrlik said. “Like I said, it’s nice to see him back. Hopefully he’s not going to do the same damage like he did [to the Islanders] last night to us.”
Alex Ovechkin did not speak to reporters Tuesday at KCI. A team spokesman said he had already left the practice facility when players were made available. But Ovechkin did respond to Crosby’s return when asked about it on Monday night.
From Puck Daddy:
When asked if Crosby’s return would motivate him, Ovechkin said “yeah,” but followed by saying: “It doesn’t matter; Sidney over there, somebody else over there … I have to play my game.”
As for Crosby’s four-point night in his return to the ice, Ovechkin said: “I didn’t see the game, so … it’s good for him, coming back from long-term injury. So it’s good for him.”
Below, check out a video of the Post Sports Live crew discussing the Capitals’ recent struggles and Crosby’s return: