Patriots

Cox wonders if NHL tried to kill Crosby; WGS barfs

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Cox wonders if NHL tried to kill Crosby; WGS barfs

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

This is awful: "NHL may have put Crosby at risk in Winter Classic"

Now, I pretend to hate Canada the way all good Americans should...

It'sChristmas in Canada
Tags: SOUTH
PARKmore...

...but my dislike for Damien Cox's column has nothing to do with it running on the Toronto Star's website. I wasn't even bothered by the fact that the little weather box in the top left of the header said it was -20 Celsius. Celsius sucks. I had to look up an online conversion tool to find out what the real temperature is.

No, I was annoyed because Cox took a potentially interesting idea -- "The impact of Sidney Crosbys potential absence from the NHL all-star game next weekend varies depending on the perspective one holds on the event" -- and turned it into a 689-word exercise in jock sniffing.

Hes the best player in the world right now. Hes the games leading ambassador. Hes the captain of one of the two NHL teams, Pittsburgh and Washington, which matter far more to the NHL than any of the other 28. He would, without question, be the No. 1 pick in Fridays all-star fantasy draft if hes healthy.

So if the game matters, the fact that Crosby wont be there matters.

I won't argue this point. Though I don't always like Criesby, I love hockey and he's important to the league.

But then:

In other words, did the NHL put its top attraction in jeopardy and eliminate him from participating in not only recent games with the Penguins but also the all-star game by staging the Winter Classic the way that it did?

Huh?

...putting a hockey rink in the middle of a football field, with no stands close to the boards, totally changes the feel of the ice surface and the depth perception of the players.Adding to the problem was the rain.... It affected visibility as well as the ice for both skating and puck handling.Finally, the game was moved to the evening from the afternoon, something that never happens in the NHL. Hockey players are creatures of habit the morning skate, the afternoon nap, the pre-game meal and even an afternoon game can throw them off.

Cox: Are you serious?

Are you really exploring the idea that various factors -- some man-made, like the outdoor rink, and some "acts of God," like napping -- conspired together with David Steckel to create a death trap for Sidney Crosby?

That can't be right because that's freaking absurd.

So maybe these "factors" just coincided with the Steckel hit, and the point of note is the fact that the whole thing could have been avoided entirely?

Oh, please.

The Kid has already played in a Winter Classic, in the event's 2008 debut. With only four games in WC history, Pittsburgh has played in 50 of them because of Crosby. That's it. The NHL smartly used his nameface in opposition to Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin's to bring max hype to the game.

It's not like the two teams in the previous season's Stanley Cup finals (Flyers, Blackhawks) are promised the Winter Classic and that promise had to be honored. Selecting the Pens and Caps was a choice. And that selection is an honor.

But Cox acts like Crosby was cursed.

...heres the compelling point: Few have ever seen Crosby get hit like he was by Steckel, seemingly caught unaware of his position on the ice and, more importantly, the position of opposing players and his proximity to danger.

He curled back towards the end of the rink as the play headed the other way. He never saw Steckel coming until he felt the Washington centres right shoulder crash into the left side of his head. And this is the most aware hockey player on the planet.

It just wasnt very Crosby-like, and you have to wonder if the altered depth perception, rain, lousy ice and amended schedule played a part.

Hockey players are at risk every single night; they play on a slippery surface and hit each other. I want to find out exactly what the danger quotient was increased to because the players had extra time for afternoon nappies when the game was delayed.

But if the conditions were potentially dangerous for one player then those conditions were dangerous for every player on the ice. Every league protects its stars to some degree -- it's smart business sense, as it is to put those stars in premier events like the Winter Classic -- I get that. This isn't an investigation into how the NHL might have put CROSBYCROSBYCROSBY at risk and failed to protect an investment.

It's gross favoritism.

Cox singles out Crosby's safety with complete disregard for the other players.

If some AHL call-up got one minute of ice time in the Winter Classic and got decapitated in that one minute because the rain caused an opponent to slip and slice the kid's head off with his skate, would that have been cool?

Is that just a risk that Everybody-But-Crosby has to take on a daily basis? What about Ovechkin? He's the NHL's whore, too, but went out there in the rain, apparently risking all seven of his brain cells.

Cox doesn't even bring that up. Know why?

Ugh.

My advice? Act like a normal person instead of a fangirl, Cox. Valentines Day is coming up so just go for it, write Sid an epic love poem instead of using the Toronto Star's sports page.

Five quick thoughts: Patriots put it all together against Falcons

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Five quick thoughts: Patriots put it all together against Falcons

FOXBORO -- Here are some quick-hitting thoughts on the Patriots' 23-7 victory over the Falcons on Sunday night.

1) If the Patriots attacked this game believing that the best defense is a good offense . . . they were right. 

They controlled the ball for more than 18 minutes in the first half and ran for 92 yards on 18 carries (a 5.1 yards per attempt average) with four backs sharing the load. Rex Burkhead gave the team a spark with his speed and vision in his first game back since suffering a rib injury in Week 2. The success the Patriots had running the ball had the added benefit of opening up the play-action pass game and it helped protect Tom Brady. After taking two sacks in the first quarter and a monster hit (penalized for roughing the passer) from Adrian Clayborn in the second, Brady was fairly well-protected. 

PATRIOTS 23, FALCONS 3

2) Tom Brady lamented the fact that he hadn't been more accurate in the red zone of late, but he was better in that area to help the Patriots pad their early lead. 

The Patriots went 2-for-3 in the red zone through the first half, with Brady hitting on touchdown passes to Brandin Cooks (which looked more like an end-around hand-off) and James White. Brady still had moments of inaccuracy. The pass he lofted before being croaked by Clayborn was a bad one that was intercepted. (The pick was wiped after the penalty was enforced.) He threw behind Chris Hogan on multiple occasions. He also had an odd throw float well out of bounds that was intended for Rob Gronkowski. But for the most part he was on point, completing 21 of his first 29 throws for 241 yards. 

3) The Patriots defense showed up in critical moments time and time again in this one. 

They stopped the Falcons twice on fourth down, and they allowed Matt Ryan and his offense to convert on just two of their first nine third-down plays. The Falcons coaching staff deserves plenty of criticism for going for it when they did, but with a banged-up secondary, going against the reigning MVP and one of the best receivers in the league, the Patriots responded.

4) Bill Belichick's run defense was particularly impressive in the first half on Sunday night, helping keep the Falcons from getting anything going until it was too late. 

They allowed just 30 yards on nine attempts in the first two quarters (a 3.3 yards per attempt average), with Malcom Brown, Trey Flowers, Kyle Van Noy, Lawrence Guy and Deatrich Wise all making impressive stops at, near or behind the line of scrimmage. 

5) The Patriots suffered a handful of injuries to key players that will be worth keeping an eye on moving forward. 

Malcom Brown left the game in the second half with an ankle injury. Their top defensive tackle this season, Brown's absence may be one reason for why the Falcons were able to pump up their rushing yardage to triple digits by midway through the fourth quarter. Dont'a Hightower also left the game and was announced as questionable to return with a shoulder injury. Hightower has had a history of shoulder issues and so perhaps this is an older injury that was re-aggravated. Chris Hogan also left the game briefly and was evaluated for a concussion, according to NBC's television broadcast. He later returned.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE