After the Whistle: Should Crosby take an all-star break?
Canucks, Flyers chase Presidents' Trophy
Each week hockey columnist Scott Morrison and his protegé, senior hockey writer Tim Wharnsby, exchange (mostly) friendly banter on the latest storylines in the NHL.
1. Even if Sidney Crosby returns to action later this week or next week from his concussion, should he play in the NHL All-Star Game or employ the five-day break to rest up for the final 10 weeks of the regular season?
MORRISON: I don't think Crosby will be back later this week. I believe the Penguins will severely err on the side of caution. Having said that, in my opinion, there is no way Crosby should be expected to show up for the all-star game under these circumstances. He has been a good soldier for the NHL and has earned the break if he wants it.
WHARNSBY: The Penguins and Crosby have to do what is best for the player and the team. Therefore, he should simply stay at home and make sure his recovery is complete. And now he has the perfect out with Eric Staal and Nicklas Lidstrom being named captains for the new all-star selection format.
2. What's been your favourite story in the past week?
WHARNSBY: Patience paid off for Winnipeg native Ryan Reaves. After spending 206 games in the minor pro ranks, including nine with the ECHL's Alaska Aces, the 2005 fifth-round pick was promoted to the NHL for the second time this season and scored twice in three games for the St. Louis Blues last week. The right-winger is a tough customer, too. The former Brandon Wheat King traded punches with San Jose's Brandon Mashinter in a first-period scrap last Saturday.
MORRISON: A lot of people might not have seen it, but Capitals owner Ted Leonsis was brutally candid in his blog about the play of his team, which had lost four out of five since the Winter Classic. He didn't make threats or make it personal, but he admitted it was odd how his top players were under performing. He isn't wrong and he is entitled to share his opinion because he pays the bills. It added a little colour to a drab week.
3. There is quite a four-way battle brewing between the Canucks, Flyers and Red Wings for the Presidents' Trophy. Which team will prevail?
MORRISON: I think the Flyers will prevail because they will get to feast on some weaker teams in the East. That's not to say they aren't a terrific team because they are and Pronger is also close to returning. What a difference a year makes for the Flyers. Vancouver should be right in the hunt, while injuries eventually have to take some sort of toll on the Wings.
WHARNSBY: Good point about the Flyers schedule. They still have four games remaining against the Devils and Islanders as well as three with Ottawa and a couple more against Toronto. On the other side, the Canucks can beat up on Calgary and Edmonton six times. They also have 20 home games remaining, including three lengthy home stands of four or more games. At 15-3-3, Vancouver has the best home record. So I like Vancouver's chances to win their first Presidents' Trophy.