Sidney Crosby out Again: 5 Players Who Will Have to Step Up for the Penguins
This is a blow to the Penguins team, who was just starting to grow accustomed to having the former first overall pick in the lineup. Crosby played eight games for the Pens this year, first coming back in the lineup on November 21, a game against the New York Islanders, in which he got two goals and two assists.
Crosby was initially sitting out of two games, after he took a few bumps in a Dec. 5 home game against the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, particularly, an elbow delivered by Bruins' forward David Krejci.
It was reported that Crosby had suffered some headaches the following days, which led to his decision to sit out the following games.
He hasn't played since, taking the high road and waiting for his concussion symptoms to go away and return to the ice 100 percent.
"After talking with everyone, I just figured it was better to be cautious here and not take any chances," Crosby said in the NHL.com article . "That's kind of where I'm at right now."
Now that the captain is out of the lineup for the foreseeable future, the Penguins have some work to do. Some guys have already stepped up quite a bit in Crosby's absence and some still have to fill the scoring void.
For those who have already stepped up, it's time to take it to the next level and get the Penguins as far as possible, without Sid the Kid.
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Stats: 30 GP; 17 G, 11 A, 28 PTS (0)
The scoring punch that Crosby left is one that James Neal has taken the role of quite nicely in Pittsburgh.
He only scored one goal in his 20 games last season after being traded from the Dallas Stars but has meshed with the organization and is one of the most lethal scorers in the league at this point.
He is shooting the puck a lot more. His 125 shots and nine power play goals lead the league thus far.
He is one that has to keep the pace going and fill the void of a former 50-goal scorer. Doing so will definitely push the Penguins into Stanley Cup conversation, as he continues to amaze the league.
His career high in goals happened in 2009-10, where he pocketed 27 in 78 games. Even if he misses a bunch of games, he can still be a 30-goal scorer in 60 games.
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Stats: 30 GP; 9 G, 13 A, 22 PTS (+10)
Since Crosby came back, Pascal Dupuis has been turning it on. He has goals in five of his last eight games and provided three assists in Crosby's return game against the Islanders on Nov. 21.
The two games Crosby missed recently, Dupuis has been relatively silent, besides the winning goal in the game against the Islanders on Dec. 10.
He is one of those players that need to take their game to the next level, now that Crosby is gone. Dupuis has been with the Penguins for a while now and with all the experiences he's been a part of, including the Stanley Cup, it's time that he comes out and is more aggressive.
He has the touch when playing with elite players and with a team loaded with them, this is the year he needs to set some career highs to look like a more valuable asset on the team.
I am sure he has dreams of making more than $1.5 million a season.
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Stats: 30 GP; 5 G, 9 A, 14 PTS (-1)
This could likely be Steve Sullivan's final years in the NHL. The back problems that plagued him and forced him to sit out the 2007-08 and part of the 2008-09 seasons brought him to realize that his time is drawing near.
The veteran was signed by Pittsburgh to bring an offensive flare, speed and veteran instincts to a young team.
He may need to be, now that Crosby is out; that is a ton of leadership and goal production that is out of the lineup.
Sullivan may not have gone deep into the playoffs, going as far as the Eastern Conference Finals with the Leafs in 1998-99, but he does offer valuable experience and a great veteran voice for the locker room.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Stats: 23 GP; 10 G, 18 A, 28 PTS (+5)
When one superstar is out, the other usually emerges. At least, that's what it was like when Sidney Crosby was out for much of the 2007-08 season due to a high ankle sprain.
Malkin seized the moment, going on a scoring rampage and finishing with 47 goals and 106 points, second only behind Alexander Ovechkin for the Art Ross Trophy.
Malkin used that confidence and in the 2008-09 season, would capture the Art Ross with 113 points, on his way to winning the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy.
That was then and this is now. Based on what was stated above, we know that Malkin has the tools to effectively replace Crosby as the elite scorer on the team and bring the team success, so stepping up is not only needed, but expected.
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Stats: 27 GP; 12 G, 6 A, 18 PTS (+5)
At this point, Jordan Staal must be sick of sitting down. He missed half of the 2010-11 season recovering from foot surgery and a fractured hand and he has missed the last two Penguins games, due to a lower-body injury.
He is only day-to-day but when he comes back, he has to step into a young leadership role that is expected of most guys who are drafted No. 2 overall.
The Staal family is well known for leadership and skill, and for Jordan, it is something the Penguins are looking for.
The Penguins need players to step up and Jordan is one of those guys who needs to get back into the thick of things and establish himself as an elite performer. That means staying healthy and getting back to the form he was in when he scored 29 goals as a rookie in 2006-07.
What do you think? What other Penguins players need to step up and be better? It's definitely hard to say that these guys aren't, considering their place in the standings, but with a superstar out of the lineup, the void must be filled in order for the team to stay competitive.