The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

October 20, 2013

MacKinnon, Crosby to cross paths in NHL

PITTSBURGH — Nathan MacKinnon has been compared to Sidney Crosby for much of his life. The two grew up in the same Canadian town and both went No. 1 in the NHL draft.

Now they get to take a much closer look at each other.

MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche visit Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night in the first NHL matchup of the pride of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.

The Avalanche and Penguins are each off to a 7-1 start, with MacKinnon and Crosby playing a key role. The 26-year-old Crosby has seven goals and 10 assists for a league-best 17 points.

MacKinnon, who turned 18 on Sept. 1, has a goal and six assists.

MacKinnon called Crosby the best player in the world and said the center is “on fire right now.” But MacKinnon is focused on what he needs to do to help the Avalanche get another win.

“Any time he’s out there when you’re not on the ice, you sometimes get to enjoy and watch some good players when you’re playing against them,” he said. “But when you’re out there, you don’t worry about who you’re playing against. You worry about what you have to do.”

Crosby knows a lot about what MacKinnon is going through in his first year in the NHL. Crosby, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft, faced high expectations when he was an 18-year-old rookie and had 102 points in his first season with Pittsburgh.

MacKinnon became one of the league’s top prospects when he starred for Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in the previous two seasons. He was the most valuable player of the Memorial Cup in May, leading his team to the title.

“Obviously he skates really well, and I don’t think you see too many young guys that can shoot the puck like he can in their first year,” Crosby said. “I think he’s got a great shot. I think he’s got all the tools – really good hands, he works hard, and he’s not afraid to go into traffic areas and create chances that way. So I think he gives himself a lot of opportunities to create things.”

The Avalanche struggled during last year’s lockout-shortened season, but they have been one of the league’s surprise teams so far this year under new coach Patrick Roy, a Hall of Fame goaltender.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said he expects to see a young team with fresh legs and a lot of speed on Monday night, and MacKinnon is certainly part of that mix.

Hailing from the same hometown as one of the NHL’s best players puts a lot of pressure on a rising player. But Crosby believes guys such as MacKinnon and Seth Jones – a defenseman who was the Nashville Predators’ first-round draft pick this year – are better prepared for the NHL due to their extensive experience coming into the league.

“Both (MacKinnon) and Seth Jones were talked about for a long time,” Crosby said. “They’ve been through everything – World Cup, World Juniors, and all that stuff. So I think everything has prepared them to get to this point and, as everyone has seen pretty quickly here, it hasn’t taken them long to get used to NHL hockey. They’ve adjusted well.”

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • Pirates 0417 Pirates power past Brewers

    Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.
    Harrison’s two-run drive down the left field line off Rob Wooten (0-1) was the second of his career as a pinch hitter.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0417 Jackets preparing for Game 2

    The Columbus Blue Jackets don’t feel they’re doomed after blowing a two-goal lead in a Game 1 loss of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
    “It’s not about missed chances, or feeling sorry about it,” goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky said at Thursday’s optional workout, 13 hours after falling 4-3 in Pittsburgh.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local Sports Briefs

    April 17, 2014

  • racin 0416 Jennerstown Speedway gearing for May open

    Jennerstown Speedway released a very ambitious schedule on its website and continues to prepare for its 2014 reopening.
    The track is set to hold a practice day for drivers as well as an open house and media day on April 26.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘Hawks already building toward next season

    Jason Spence used up his cell phone’s battery on a trip from Johnstown to his parents’ home in Nova Scotia, Canada.
    Once the Johnstown Tomahawks coach got to his destination, Spence had to get creative to secure cell service across the border.

    April 16, 2014

  • Pirates 0416 Dominant Cueto drops Pirates in matinee

    That playoff loss in Pittsburgh last year? Johnny Cueto never thought about it much. So getting a chance to shut out the Pirates in a rematch wasn’t any more special.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0416 Penguins rally to wear out Jackets

    Brandon Sutter scored on a wrist shot from the left circle 8:18 into the third period, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins rally for a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Wednesday night.
    Beau Bennett and Matt Niskanen scored power-play goals 45 seconds apart in the second period, erasing Pittsburgh’s two-goal deficit.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shelley and McElligot Series serves as reunion for former Chiefs personnel

    Not so long ago, Bob McElligott, like most Western Pennsylvania hockey fans, would savor a long Pittsburgh Penguins playoff run.
    The Somerset native followed the Pens’ Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1991 and 1992.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Malkin nearing return

    The Columbus Blue Jackets are the closest NHL team to the Pittsburgh Penguins, at least geographically. The two franchises are separated by 185 miles of highway.

    April 15, 2014

  • Reds swing way past Pirates

    Mike Leake doubled and hit a two-run homer Tuesday night, ending Gerrit Cole's winning streak and leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that completed two days full of homers and delays.
    First, the NL Central rivals completed a game that was suspended in the sixth inning because of rain the previous night.

    April 15, 2014

AP Sports Video
Poll

Should the NFL get rid of the extra-point attempt after a touchdown?

Yes
No
     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow