Superstitious Sidney Crosby looking for milestone goal 500 against Flyers

The scenario seems perfect for Pittsburgh Penguins superstar captain Sidney Crosby heading into Tuesday’s home game against the bitter rival Philadelphia Flyers.

Crosby has been inching toward the major milestone of 500 goals for a bit now. Now comes a game at home — after three straight road contests — against a team that at times in his career has gotten under Crosby’s skin and versus which he has scored 49 career goals.

Superstitious Sidney Crosby

The superstitious Crosby has not spoken publicly since nearing the mark, but his teammates have talked about it behind closed doors.

“There hasn’t been silence about it,” linemate Bryan Rust said. “It’s been talked about a little bit. But it’s not something that’s consistently brought up.”

Overall, Pittsburgh has answered a four-game slide (0-1-3) with three straight victories. That speaks to the team playing the type of game prescribed by coach Mike Sullivan.

sidney crosby
Jan 21, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) celebrates his hat trick during the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

“When we’re on the same page from a collective effort standpoint, I think we’re a team that plays a stingy game,” Sullivan said. “We do it differently than a lot of teams.”

While the Penguins saw the return of former Hart Trophy recipient Evgeni Malkin for Sunday’s 4-2 win at the New Jersey Devils following a bout with COVID-19, dealing with injuries and absences due to the virus has been a constant.

They are down to two missing players — forwards Teddy Blueger (broken jaw) and Jason Zucker (core muscle surgery) — and now will be without assistant Todd Reirden, who was scheduled for knee surgery Monday after he took a spill while shoveling snow. Reirden normally oversees the defensemen and the power play.

Flyers injury plagued season

Philadelphia, also plagued by injuries for most of the season, is searching for any positives. The Flyers started the season with a 6-2-2 record but are 9-22-6 since, including losses in both games of a home-and-home series against Detroit. Things were only made worse with the loss of Sean Couturier for the season.

Still, there were some glimmers of hope in Saturday’s 4-2 setback to the Red Wings.

“The response was what we were looking for as far as continuing to fight, continuing to work, continuing to do the right things,” Philadelphia interim coach Mike Yeo said.

The Flyers have made changes in their coaching staff over the season, and Saturday they picked up their first power-play goal since new assistant John Torchetti took over the duty of overseeing that aspect of the special teams. It was also defenseman Keith Yandle’s first goal as a member of the Flyers.

“His meetings are open-ended,” Yandle said of Torchetti. “You feel involved. He’s a positive guy as well. I think that goes a long way with our group. A lot of it is just executing and finding ways to make plays.”

Scott Laughton, who also scored Saturday, said there were signs Philadelphia started tracking in a better direction in its last game.

“I thought we skated a lot better. We supported the puck, got out of our zone a lot quicker,” Laughton said. “Obviously not the result we wanted (but) guys were skating together, and at this point we have to keep building on that.”

Forward Derick Brassard missed Saturday’s contest after recently returning from a hip injury. Yeo said it was more a matter of stiffness and that Brassard could be able to play Tuesday.

–Field Level Media