Angry Penguins Left Frustrated After Sidney Crosby's Injury in Game 5 Loss to RangersMay 12, 2022
NEW YORK — You could say that Sidney Crosby has turned back the clock in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the New York Rangers, but the reality is that, even at 34 years old, he’s still a top-10 player in the NHL.
His impact in this series has been tremendous. He has nine points against the Rangers, and coach Mike Sullivan can’t get the line of Jake Guentzel, Crosby and Bryan Rust out on the ice fast enough. The Crosby line has been absolutely dominant throughout the series and is the main reason why Pittsburgh is one win away from the second round.
So when Crosby left Game 5 on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, it changed the tenor of the contest. What happens next will undoubtedly have an impact on the rest of the series, which the Penguins lead 3-2 and will shift back to Pittsburgh for Game 6 on Friday.
Jacob Trouba caught Crosby high with an elbow and leveled the center in open ice at 9:15 into the second period. Crosby lumbered to the Penguins’ bench and played two more shifts before heading down the tunnel and back to the dressing room. He did not return. After the game, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan confirmed that his captain was being evaluated for an upper-body injury.
However, Sullivan did come pretty close to calling the hit dirty without using the word.
“Did you see the hit? You probably have the same opinion I do,” Sullivan said when asked for his thoughts on the intent of the hit.
Trouba was not penalized, though a suspension or a fine remains a possibility. The department of player safety will likely review this and, if they’re seeing the same angles we already are on Twitter, then the evidence is pretty damning.
Trouba’s elbow was fully flared, and the point of contact was the head. It’s tough to see the intent from the replays and the images, but an open-ice high elbow that makes any contact with the head is heavily frowned upon by the league's disciplinarians.
If you want to gripe about missed calls, then this is your chance. It should also be noted that officials missed a crosscheck by Evgeni Malkin near the benches that saw Rangers center Kevin Rooney get a stick to the face as he was trying to get back to the bench. The officiating in this series has been inconsistent at best.
These were two dangerous plays that need to be called and could result in fines and possible suspensions.
Trouba is a key defenseman for New York, playing in all situations, including on the Rangers’ second power-play unit that scored the game-winning goal in the 5-3 win. Trouba had a goal and an assist and was on the ice for four New York goals scored.
However, Crosby has been playing Conn Smythe-level hockey. Losing him would be a nightmare for the Penguins. Those three goals the Rangers scored in the second period within a span of three minutes? Those all came after Crosby had left the game.
The Rangers had nothing going in the first period and throughout the first half of the second. The injury had a clear effect on the game, and it won't be easy for Sullivan and the Penguins to fill the minutes he plays.
"We never want to see a player like that leave, but we have to find a way," Guentzel said. "He's the best player in the world. That's a lot of minutes other guys have to take up."
Losing Trouba wouldn't be great for the Rangers' hope of staving off elimination one more time and pushing this series to a seventh game at home, but the health of Crosby—and the health of any player, for that matter—is more important than a hockey game.
"He's one of the best players in the world, and they still had some good chances and they created a lot," Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. "But he's a great player for them and hopefully he's OK."