Alright as we get back into the swing of things, hockey-wise that is, I decided to start a new weekly based series! As you can see in the title, it is going to be called “Sick Hands Sunday”. Basically, what I’m going to do with this is provide an article each Sunday recapping the player with the “hottest” hands in the league. Although the NHL is not back for another two and a half weeks or so, I am going to pull one player from the eight World Cup rosters who I think deserves the award.
Honestly as big as a hockey fan that I am, picking just one player is extremely hard to do. Especially when you look at how stacked each team is, primarily Team Canada and Team North America! Before I pick my player, I want all of you hockey fans out there to see how hard it was for me to pick someone.
For example, even though Team Canada’s Sidney Crosby, who leads the tourney in points, tallied a whopping seven points (3G, 4A) in four games, there was still competition below him. In second place, Brad Marchand of Team Canada registered five points (3G, 2A) in four games and is right behind Crosby. Amazingly, there was a jaw-dropping 11-way tie for third with four points! The players included in the 11-way tie are Team Canada’s Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron, Matt Duchene, Logan Couture, John Tavares, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Team North America’s Shayne Gostisbehere and Johnny Gaudreau. Team Sweden’s Nicklas Backstrom and Erik Karlsson and last but not least, Team Europe’s Mats Zuccarello. So even though the list of players under Crosby have fewer points, they all played very well on their respective teams.
Now on to the good part, the winner of this week’s “Sick Hands Award”. Like I said above, it was difficult to single out a player. Saying that, as I go back and watch the highlights of each game to help me pick, I am going to have to go with Canada’s top center, Sidney Crosby. As much as this pains me to pick him being a die hard Flyers fan, he has been just incredible in Canada’s first 3 tournament games and their semi-final game against Russia. When I say incredible, I honestly mean that because no team could contain him at all. It was truly insane to watch him basically control each game.
In Team Canada’s opening round 6-0 dominate win versus Team Czech Republic, Crosby recorded three points (1G, 2A) including the game’s first goal at 8:26 of the first period. Crosby showed relentless pursuit on the play by picking up the deflected shot and quickly wrapping the puck around the net and banking his shot in off of Czech goaltender Michal Neuvirth. Below you can see the play resulting in Crosby’s goal.
Surprisingly, Sid the Kid did not have a point in Canada’s 4-2 win against rival Team USA but he was a big threat the whole game. Crosby’s one game scoring “drought” did not stop him from having another solid game. Crosby, once again, scored Canada’s opening goal against Team Europe in a solid 4-1 win. He grabbed the deflected shot behind the net, quickly skated to the other side, and beat Slovakian goalie Jaroslav Halak short side with another wrap around. Sid the Kid’s dominate speed was on display and it provided a great boost for the goal as you can see below.
Again, Crosby had a commanding semi-final game against Team Russia. He tallied three points (1G, 2A) along with, believe it or not, the opening goal 7:40 into the first period. Crosby was sent in on the forecheck into the corner to get the puck. He sneakily stole the puck from the Russian defender in the slot. Then Crosby quickly went in on a mini-breakaway on his backhand, made a tremendous backhand move, dekeing Russian goalie Sergei Bobrovsky out of his skates and roofing the puck for the first goal of the game. He then went on to tally two beautiful assists to linemate Brad Marchand to seal the win for Canada. Below you can see Crosby’s fantastic goal along with his two great assists.
Hands down the most effective player in the first four games for any team. If you don’t agree with me, then you might be crazy! In close second, taking home the honorable mention for the week is Team Canada’s Marchand. Brad played great in all four games picking up a goal and two assists in game one, no points in games two or three, and scoring two clutch goals in their semifinal game. It was a close fight between Crosby and Marchand, but picking Crosby in the end, was the right call!