During yesterday's Red Wings-Coyotes game on NBC, Pavel Datsyuk chipped the puck past the Coyotes D-man and then shot the puck between his own legs. It didn't go in. But apparently it was such a history-making play that all the Coyotes' defenders stopped what they were doing and turned toward
But forgive us for not joining the chorus of punditry deeming Datsyuk's assist the "play of the playoffs." Maybe we are jaded, but prior to January 1, 2011, that type of excellence was routine in Pittsburgh. It's when you see the fuss about another player making a play like this that you really start to understand exactly what Sid's absence from these playoffs means.
It's an incredible loss for humanity.
GTOG has been a firm believer that Datsyuk (along with Zetterberg) is the the most consistently great player that the Pens play against. Better than Ovechkin. Better than the Sedins. He's fantastic. In fact, one of the reasons the Pens won the Cup in 2009 -- a reason many Pens' fans have conveniently forgotten -- is that Datsyuk missed the first 3 games of the series (maybe it was 4, not looking it up) and was far from 100% for the rest of it. It made a huge diference and we're not afraid to admit that.
But if the past season and a half have taught us anything, it's that the clear cut number one player in the NHL is a Nova Scotian who, just a year ago, was babysitting his boss's children while earning close to $9 million/year. Sid chips the puck past flat-footed defenders and makes creative partial-breakaway moves once a period. You may say we are biased; we say we are objectively biased.
Since Sid's injury, we haven't wasted any pixels feeling sorry for ourselves about him not playing. But sometimes, you can't help but wonder, what if David Steckel was more coordinated? Unfortunately, he isn't.
So instead we are left with the NBA playoffs without Michael Jordan. The Masters without Tiger Woods. The Bachelor without Chris Harrison.
We're not pushing for Sid to come back. In fact, we'd be fine if he was declared out until training camp. This is a long-term investment. In ten years, no one will care whether the Pens lost to the Lightning in the first round of a Stanley Cup Playoffs that they'd be hard-pressed to win even with Sid in the lineup. But we will care if Sid never got back to the level he was at in the fall of 2010.
Some will say we are crying about Sid's injury. We aren't. It happens, and we're fine with that. The Pens must play with the lineup they have, which is still a very good one. If the Pens don't win the Cup, it's because they weren't the best team. It's that simple. But if anyone should be crying, it's everyone who loves hockey.
And that's all we'll have to say about Sid.
Huge game Monday night.