Pittsburgh Penguins third-line center Sidney Crosby returns on Thursday night to face the New York Rangers, playing for the first time since his 8-game comeback was halted on Dec. 5 with more concussion-like symptoms.
There's been some subtle, under-the-radar hype for this game … aw, who are we kidding? The NHL, NBC and every hockey media outlet is covering the hell out of the Return of the Kid. The television audience for this game — already positioned as a key Eastern Conference battle — will be massive.
But the Rangers? They don't care about Crosby, the comeback or any of its trappings. At all.
"We don't think about (Crosby), because we don't really care about him," forward Brandon Dubinsky told reporters after the team's morning skate on Thursday.
"We know they're a good team. We have to respect them for being a good team. I don't think we care who's in their lineup," he said.
As for Dubinsky's coach John Tortorella, he was mum on Crosby's return (via the NY Times):
"We put pressure on ourselves, no matter who we're playing," Tortorella said. "We don't spend too much time looking at what's going on in the standings. We really don't. It's something we addressed early on this year. I think our guys have a maturity about it. We just worry about us. We just worry about today. There's enough pressure we put on ourselves to be the best that we can be and play the right way. That's plenty."
As for the hype surrounding Sid's return specifically, Tortorella said: "Not going to get me to bite on it … I think it's a bunch of B.S."
In fairness, captain Ryan Callahan was a bit more diplomatic in an interview on Wednesday:
"I think you've got to go right at him. A guy like him, you can't back off at all. If you give him time or space he's gonna make you pay. I think it's great for the league he's back, at the same time we've got to treat him like any other superstar and finish our checks."
Then again, Callahan won't be facing Crosby tonight, as he's out with an injury. Crosby will also miss Henrik Lundqvist, who is out with a touch of the flu. OK, he won't really "miss" him per se; how does Crosby keep lucking out with these backup goalies?
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