It may have been more than a month, but it certainly feels like Sidney Crosby is now back in full force.
A broken jaw had sidelined Crosby since the end of March after a scary puck to the face, but he was medically cleared to play on Thursday.
How did Crosby celebrate his return? He scored two goals.
Both goals came in the first period for Crosby, with the first only 3:19 into the game and the second through 7:22, quickly answering a goal by the Islanders just 18 seconds earlier.
Friday night’s game didn’t end ideally for the Pittsburgh Penguins, losing 3-4 to the New York Islanders. However, they got their best player back, and he proved that he’s not only the best player for the Penguins, but the best player in the NHL.
With the injury, Crosby was only able to play in 36 of the team’s 48 games. Even though he only played in 75 percent of the games for the Penguins, he still finished third in points, second in assists and fourth in plus/minus.
Crosby’s numbers in a strike-shortened season while also suffering a significant injury are quite impressive. He finished with 15 goals, 41 assists, 56 points and a plus/minus of 26.
There’s no denying anymore that Crosby is the best player in the NHL. Sure, his helmet looked weird, but hockey isn’t about style.
It’s about toughness.
The two goals are impressive, but the time on ice is even more admirable. During the season, Crosby averaged 21:06 on the ice. During Game 2 against the Islanders, he played in an impressive 23:21 out in play.
When coming back from a big injury in any sport, the player usually gradually gets back into the game. They take time to get back in rhythm before playing their normal minutes.
That wasn’t the case for Crosby.
The Penguins may have lost on Friday night, but it wasn’t because of Crosby. He went out and showed that just because he is recovering from a broken jaw doesn’t mean he will play at a lower level.
That’s what makes a true great in the NHL.