Thursday night was the best Stanley Cup final game of Sidney Crosby’s career.
And he didn’t even score a goal.
From the very first shift, the Predators had no chance.
Nashville has the best defensive core in the league.
But it didn’t matter.
Not even a little bit.
When Sidney Crosby imposes his will on a game, it’s all but over.
He’s the best player in the world.
Truly, he might even be the best player of all-time.
As hockey fans, we can’t possibly appreciate this guy enough.
Shortly after his incredible first shift last night, Crosby helped ignite PPG Paints Arena.
He worked his magic along the right wall and fed a perfect pass in the wheelhouse of Justin Schultz, who buried it behind Pekka Rinne.
Only a minute into the game, you knew you were witnessing something special.
This remarkably resilient team, led by their captain, was doing it once again.
However, it wasn’t just Sid’s play on the ice that set this game apart.
At the end of the first period, the Penguin’s captain got tangled up with PK Subban behind the net.
Only this time, the tables were turned.
After the initial struggle, Subban held onto Crosby’s leg.
Per usual, the referee didn’t seem to mind this wrestling match.
So Crosby got even.
He shoved Subban’s head into the ice until he finally released him from the leg-lock.
"how's my glove smell?"
-sid crosby pic.twitter.com/XBMQVZBBAi
— evgeni malkin's ego (@EvgeniMaIkinEgo) June 9, 2017
I wish this type of stuff was eliminated from hockey completely, I really do.
I don’t want to see this type of obvious obstruction in hockey.
But this is what the NHL wants.
They don’t care about the safety of their players, especially Sidney Crosby.
Thursday night, the NHL’s most frequent punching bag hit back.
I don’t blame Sid one bit for what he did.
In fact, it’s what solidified this game as one of Crosby’s most memorable showings.
It was a big middle finger to the league and their handling of player safety.
“Hey, you guys don’t want to protect me? Well, I can give it right back.”
And you can guess how the hockey community reacted to this play.
“Wow, what a classless move by Crosby!”
“This is why no one likes Sid!”
“Crosby has always been dirty!”
“The refs favor the NHL’s golden boy!”
To believe any of those sentiments, you’re either completely biased against the Penguins superstar or you’ve been living under a rock for the last ten years.
There’s been a grand total of one suspension of one game on hits to Sidney Crosby in his career.
Dubinsky assaults Crosby https://t.co/2fnAlMmys6
— evgeni malkin's ego (@EvgeniMaIkinEgo) November 28, 2015
That’s the only one.
Now, the rest of these were all “hockey plays”.
niskanen's stick gets crosby in the head pic.twitter.com/muR5IFbDhJ
— evgeni malkin's ego (@EvgeniMaIkinEgo) May 1, 2017
mark stone with shot to crosby's head well after the puck is gone, the refs deem it's just a "hockey play" pic.twitter.com/2cpGHW39m1
— evgeni malkin's ego (@EvgeniMaIkinEgo) May 24, 2017
Subban and Crosby go at it pic.twitter.com/EaCAMBmlLa
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) June 1, 2017
Where was the outrage when any of these happened?
Oh, right. The hockey community nonsensically hates their game’s best player.
I’ve been adamant on player safety and eliminating headshots since I had a voice in the hockey world.
I’ve watched this stuff happen to Crosby night after night, while the only response from the rest of the hockey community is that I’m being “soft”.
Don’t even dare act outraged after one minor act by Crosby giving it back for once.
You’ve got absolutely no room to talk.
If you thought the rest were “hockey plays”, then your opinion on this is not needed.
As a kid, I watched my favorite player have the prime of his career taken away from him due to one of the most malicious headshots I’ve ever seen.
We will never know what Sidney Crosby would’ve accomplished that year.
We will never know how much that hit has affected him as a player.
We will never know how much that hit has affected him as a person.
Any outrage against Crosby is as hypocritical as it gets.
Thursday night, Sidney Crosby not only dominated in the biggest game of the year, he gave the NHL a taste of their own medicine.
He finished the game with three assists and one hockey world set on fire.
The truth is, I don’t care if hockey fans continue hate Sidney Crosby.
And neither does he.
He only needs one more win to become the first back to back Cup champion since 1998.
If the Penguins pull it off, he’ll have his third Stanley Cup since 2009.
He’ll have brought Pittsburgh their fifth Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Pittsburgh has become the great hockey town it is today thanks to Sidney Crosby.
He’s inspired a new generation of hockey fans in Pittsburgh.
Once undisputed as a football town, hockey is quickly taking over the Steel City.
I love the Steelers, and I always will.
But to me and many young fans, the Penguins will always be number one.
We have Sidney Crosby and moments like Thursday night to thank for that.
The rest of the hockey world can view him as a villain if they want.
But he will always be our hero.