Pittsburgh has been blessed with high concentrations of professional hockey talent. Jagr and Lemieux, Erry and Steigerwald.
Now, Malkin and Crosby.
The Dynamic Duo, or as the Pensblog appropriately calls them The Mega Powers, seem healthy together for the first time in ages. Last season, Crosby sat out during a large portion of the regular season and both played injured during the playoffs.
The healthy Mega Powers have placed the team and the city of Pittsburgh on their backs as seemingly the entire Penguins roster has been injured or failed to perform to expectations.
Tonight, the Penguins return to the ice against Atlanta after a much needed rest. The Mega Powers will receive back up support in the form of Marc-Andre Fleury who will be starting for the first time in a month.
As if they need it.
Makin and Crosby have taken over the league in Fleury’s absence. Had the Penguins received more consistency from their roles and not been traveling through a grueling portion of their schedule the win-loss record would surely be different.
Still, there’s no taking away what the two have accomplished and the different ways they do it.
Last year, Barry Melrose called Malkin the best player in the world at the time. This year, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff is calling him the modern day Jagr. Crosby has had the unfair advantage of being labeled the next Gretzky since he first laced up his skates.
Lebron-esque hype, but the two have carried it remarkably well in different ways.
Malkin understands English when it is suitable to him so he rarely has the cameras and microphones stuffed in his face the moment he exits the showers.
If you’ve seen Crosby interviewed, you can tell he hasn’t answered a question wrong since the second grade spelling bee.
And when they aren’t answering questions about the scrappy Capitals, or the lack of powerplay production, you can find their highlight videos on youtube growing, or Crosby leading the team in shots despite not being considered a goal score or Malkin leading the team in assists, despite being considered the better marksmen of the two.
Hockey is such an amazing team sport. Eventually the Mega Powers will need the consistent support they had last year. Consider that during a 60 minute game, while star players play only 20 or so. The return of Gonchar, Whitney, Kennedy, Fleury, and more will only provide fuel to the Mega Powers fire.
With all due respect, however, to Fleury’s winning smile, jelly fish body, and devil may care attitude, I, like the rest of Pittsburgh and the NHL, will be watching and waiting to see what the big Russian and the robot from Canada will do next.
The Penguins won the November 20th meeting against Atlanta 3-2.