He’s Back……again

Sidney Crosby will be returning to the Penguins lineup on Thursday against the Rangers. What does this mean for the Penguins? What does this mean for Malkin? and most importantly, what does this mean for Crosby and his health? I’ll try to answer all of those questions for you, and more in this article.

First off, what does this mean for the Penguins? The Penguins are currently in 4th place in the Eastern Conference with 89 points, and are just 4 points back of the 1st place Rangers. Last time Crosby returned to the lineup, I was skeptical he would be able to produce right away, he proved me wrong by putting up 4 points in his return. With the team currently riding a 9 game winning streak it could mess up the chemistry the team has going, but even if it does, it will be worth it to have Crosby ready and in the lineup when it matters, playoff time.

Secondly, what does this mean for Malkin? It’s been no secret that Malkin is having an unbelievable year. Everyone always says Crosby is the best player in hockey right now, Malkin is either second or third on that list, as he leads the league with 84 points and is second in the league with 38 goals. It’s also been no secret that Malkin plays much better without Crosby in the lineup. To me, this is just due to less ice-time, of course having him be the #2 centre rather than the #1. If Malkin continues to play this way, I can’t see them reducing his ice time by very much, so that shouldn’t become a factor.

Lastly, how will this affect Crosby and his health? Last time, when Crosby was on his way to returning, he was cleared for contact on Oct. 13 and then didn’t play until Nov. 21. This time around, he will be making his return a bit more than a week after being cleared for contact. After waiting over a month last time, he still got hurt just 8 games in to his return. This time, however, they know what they’re dealing with, after the news that it may have just been a neck injury this whole time, if he’s been rehabbing his neck properly, and the Penguins and Crosby truly believe that he’s 100% healed, I don’t see a  problem with him returning to the lineup. However, they better be sure he’s 100%. It will be good for Crosby to make his return in a very important game, as the Penguins try to catch the Rangers for 1st in their division and in the East. It’s also good to get his legs moving before the playoffs, so that he’s ready.

Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/criticsfromthecouch
Follow us on Twitter: @CriticsFTCouch

-Vernon Smells

30 Teams in 30 days – Kansas City Royals

“Up-and-coming” is the best way to describe the incredibly young Kansas City Royals. Though the AL Central is a near lock for the Detroit Tigers, Royals fans and hopefuls have a lot to look forward to this season. Breakout campaigns and continued success will be something to look out  for in 2012. Here is there 2011 season review.
Kansas City Royals
Record: 71-91
Finish: 4th in AL Central
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Bruce Chen, 12-8, 3.77 ERA, 97 SO
Top Hitter: Alex Gordon, .303 AVG, 23 HR, 87 RBI
Manager: Ned Yost
Important Acquisitions: Jose Mijares, Jonathan Sanchez, Jonathan Broxton, Yuniesky Betancourt, Kevin Kouzmanoff
Important Losses: Melky Cabrera SF, Yamaico Navarro PIT

The Kansas City Royals had a pretty good season, for their standards. For a team that has been regarded as one of the worst in the league for the past couple seasons, 2011 proved to be a real turning point for the crowns. The highlight of the season, for many, was the emergence of young star first-baseman Eric Hosmer. In his first season he hit 19 HR, with 78 RBI, and a .293 clip. Others like outfielders Alex Gordon, Melky Cabrera, Jeff Francoeur and DH Billy Butler, all had above average seasons to help create a pretty good royals lineup. Bruce Chen led the rotation with a career season, while other pitchers struggled against opposing lineups. 2012 will be a lot like last season, however the royals could see a jump in the standings if a few things go right. Eric Hosmer will look to continue his legend by putting up a career season, proving a sophomore slump isn’t in his sights. Alex Gordon will put up another set of good numbers, with a chance to have an even better season. Jeff Francoeur, as usual, will be stellar in the outfield while putting up good offensive stats. The addition of Jonathan Sanchez will prove to be a smart move, as he will form a good 1-2 punch with Bruce Chen. 2012 might not take the Royals to the playoffs, or even a .500 season, but it will be a great developmental year for the young players, and will see the royals jump ahead a few spots in the standings.

Prediction
Record: 79-83
Finish: 3rd in AL Central
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Jonathan Sanchez, 12-7, 3.82 ERA, 157 SO
Top Hitter: Eric Hosmer, 312 AVG, 28 HR, 92 RBI
Like our Page on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/criticsfromthecouch   
and Follow us on Twitter: @CriticsFTCouch

- Zookeeper