Sid and the Kids: Crosby thriving with Sheary, Guentzel
By WILL GRAVES
PITTSBURGH (AP) Jake Guentzel still finds himself staring. And really, it's kind of hard to blame him.
A year ago he was fresh out of Nebraska-Omaha trying to find his legs with the Pittsburgh Penguins' AHL affiliate, all speed and youth and talent anxious at what the future might hold.
And here he is now, the youngest member of the NHL's hottest line, sharing the ice with his childhood idol thinking to himself, `Yes, that really is Sidney Crosby over there."
"It's crazy," Guentzel said with a shrug.
And at the moment kind of unstoppable for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who remain in the thick of the Metropolitan Division race with Washington and Columbus despite missing 66 percent of its starting blue line and center Evgeni Malkin, who is out with an upper body injury that will keep him out of the lineup in Buffalo on Tuesday.
Yet the Penguins have stayed afloat anyway thanks in part to Crosby's usual brilliance and an unexpected alliance created on the fly by head coach Mike Sullivan.
Developing chemistry with the best player in the world can be an inexact science. Crosby, the 22-year-old Guentzel and 24-year-old Conor Sheary have created some almost instantaneously since Sullivan threw them together against Edmonton earlier this month.
In the six games since they've started hopping over the boards together, they've combined for 10 of Pittsburgh's 20 goals and racked up 16 assists.
Every red-light moment of Crosby's natural hat trick in Sunday's 4-0 victory over Florida came courtesy of the sticks of his precocious linemates, the ones who make up for in enthusiasm and innate hockey IQ what they lack in experience.
"The main thing is that we're consistently getting chances," said Crosby, who leads the NHL with 40 goals. "With that, it doesn't matter who gets them, they'll go in. Those guys have a ton of speed and they're strong on pucks and making plays. We'll continue to get better."
They'll certainly continue to play together indefinitely, though Crosby isn't one for trying to come up with some sort of gimmicky nickname like the "HBK" - Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel - that played so well together during last spring's run to the Cup a local restaurant chain created a sandwich in their honor.
"I never got into the lines or the nicknames and I'm not going to start now," Crosby said with a laugh. "I'll leave that up to you guys."
At 29, Crosby's old enough to know that nothing lasts forever. "HBK" might have been a revelation last summer, but they've long since split up.
For now, Sid and the Kids (just a suggestion) will keep doing what they're doing, which is mainly keeping defenses scrambling to keep up.
"Sid's the glue there that holds that line together but certainly the three of them, to a man they've all played terrific for us," Sullivan said.
While playing alongside Crosby certainly helps, Sheary and Guentzel are more than keeping up. Sheary managed just seven goals in 44 games as a rookie in 2015-16. He's already at 20 goals in 51 so far this season, a 5-foot-8 gnat in skates relentlessly working his way into tight spaces or beating opponents to loose pucks.
They also keep their heads up rather than developing tunnel vision about getting to the net and hoping for the best. Call it the byproduct of knowing Crosby is liable to try to find them at any moment while trying to thread a pass few others can make.
Crosby and Sheary both offered Guentzel - who had two goals during his auspicious NHL debut in a loss to the New York Rangers in November - the same bit of advice so he wouldn't get too wide-eyed.
"I may have told him once or twice just play your game," said Sheary, who went through a similar indoctrination process of learning to play with Crosby last season. "Other than that he's a smart enough player, he's a good enough player. He can play with anyone."
It certainly looks that way. While it's hard to imagine Steph Curry or LeBron James hitting the court with two rookies in tow, Crosby has embraced the opportunity.
While Sullivan stressed that Crosby remains "the glue," having two players who seem immune to the pressure that comes with playing in the spotlight with the face of the NHL helps.
"I don't think one's a scorer or one's a passer," Sullivan said. "I think they're hockey players and they just play hockey. When the shot's there, they shoot. When it's not, they have the vision and the awareness and they see it."
And just as importantly, they're oblivious to the pressure of the moment. A quality that will be in high demand when Pittsburgh begins its quest to become the first team in two decades to repeat next month. No staring allowed.
"Growing up you watch (Crosby)," Guentzel said. "So to be honest it's pretty special. I'm trying to make the most of it."
Updated March 20, 2017
Pete talks with The Senator, Phil Perry about the Patriots trading for Dwayne Allen, ruling out a return to New England for Martellus Bennett. They also talk about the potential future of Patriots backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo and some of the big names in NFL free agency
Pete, Thornton and Price give their final thoughts and predictions for the Super Bowl.
Gabe calls the boys to handicap one of the biggest gambling days of the year - Super Bowl 51! Gabe has all the point spread info down and gets to all of the major prop bets that interest him.
Kirk, Gerry, and Alex Reimer discuss whether or not Isaiah Thomas will win a title in Boston.
Gerry, Kirk, and Trenni react to the Celtics loss against the Suns.
The NBA trade rumor mill is beginning to swirl as the deadline approaches and Picard is ready to go! He talks about the possibility of Jimmy Butler coming to Boston, why Isaiah Thomas is not getting enough respect and the future of the Celtics.
Rob Bradford is joined by Drew Pomeranz, the Red Sox pitcher who so many are wondering if he will be able to live up the value placed on him by the Red Sox when trading away top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza last July. Pomeranz goes into detail regarding his injury last season, the stem cell treatment he underwent in the offseason, and how he thinks things stand heading into the 2017 campaign.
Rob Bradford is joined by Tom Caron, the man responsible for guiding the ship when it comes to Red Sox pregame and postgame shows, along with various other important duties with the New England Sports Network, including offering the play-by-play for both TV and radio throughout spring training. Tom and Rob discuss a variety of topics, such as nickname conundrums, radio vs. television, criticizing the team, behind-the-scenes for the broadcasts and where the industry is going.
Rob Bradford is joined by two-time All-Star outfielder Carlos Quentin, who is attempting a comeback with the Red Sox this spring. Quentin's path back to baseball involves almost quitting the game less than a year ago, losing 40 pounds and trying to sell himself to general managers all over Major League Baseball. Quentin explains his journey, which has led him to the back fields at JetBlue Park.
Hour 4. After Kraft’s comments at the owners meeting, the guys discuss how long Brady will play for. Gerry hates Lavar Ball. Reimer had a crazy time in Germany.
Hour 3. Kirk announces the K&C trip to Washington, D.C. Alex continues his battle against Kirk and Gerry on the Iowa State terrorist assignment. Kirk is sick of sporty promos.
Hour 2. Kirk responds to Keefe’s shot at him. Alex says America is to blame for 9/11 in Headlines. Alex says the U.S. should let as many people in as possible.
HOUR 4 - In the final hour of the show, we put a bow on the LeBron James "injury" from Monday night, take a call from a listener who is sick of "show-on-show" drama, play Kirk ripping Keefe in it's entirety, and expose Chad Finn for being a 98.5 fanboy who wouldn't address Pete Abe in his Friday chat.
HOUR 3 - In hour 3, the guys discuss a column by Dan Graziano and another by Bomani Jones about WHY Colin Kaepernick is "blackballed" by the NFL. Graziano reports that Kaepernick is seeking "$9-10M per year" which is roughly what a bottom-end starting QB would get paid. They also get into the Raiders moving to Vegas, and some potential problems that could arise.
HOUR 2 - In hour 2, we play Robert Kraft's nauseating interview with "First Take" and point out that Max Kellerman pusses out after being highly critical of Tom Brady over the past few years. The guys also get into some of Robert Kraft's comments from Monday, where Kraft said that Brady told him he'd like to play for 6-7 more years.
We finish the show with the best sound of the day.
Holley and Keefe discuss Tom Brady's future and if it's possible to see Brady playing for 6-7 more years.
Dale, Holley, and Keefe discuss the Hernandez trial and then address Malcolm Butler and the Patriot off season decisions.
Kirk Minihane, future radio hall of famer, sits down with current radio hall of famer Howie Carr. Kirk and Howie talk about Howie's latest book Kennedy Babylon. If you like famous people engaging in sex scandals, hard drug taking, and murder this is the podcast for you. Its a fascinating look at Boston's most famous family and the problems that took the family down.
Kirk Minihane, host and overlord of the morning show, brings Gerry Callahan and producers Chris and Ken into the studio to hear his show proposal. Kirk is thinking about making some changes to the morning show and wants to hear his crew's opinion.
SI's Richard Deitsch returns to the podcast to talk with Kirk about the K&C casting couch, how ESPN wimps out when they are called out for slander, what's going on with Bill Simmons, and the rise of podcasting.
Rich Keefe is joined by Dale Arnold and Ben Kichen to preview WrestleMania 33. Is it a good card? What will be the best match? Plus Ryan Davey is in for "This Week in #DORK" with a look a couple new trailers and the always great "Black Panther Reads #DORK iTunes Reviews."
Christian Fauria and Dr Gill go over the difficulties of staying healthy through the long grind of the playoffs in the NBA and in the NHL.
Ken Laird and Chris Curtis recap an Evan Drellich revival edition of the K&C Show on a Monday
Hour 1. Evan Drellich makes his casting couch return. Over the weekend, Michael Che affirmed that he believes Boston is “the most racist city” he has ever been to.More from this show
Hour 2. Kirk responds to Keefe’s shot at him. Alex says America is to blame for 9/11 in Headlines. Alex says the U.S. should let as many people in as possible.More from this show
Hour 2. Evan Drellich defends Michael Che, saying that it’s possible to say Boston is racist if you are black. Gerry and Kirk battle with Drellich, defending the city against Michael Che’s allegations. In headlines, the guys revisit the Maison family.More from this show
Hour 4. Joe Sullivan didn’t want to appear on K&C. Instead, he appeared on Brand X. Drellich thinks working the beat is just as hard as when Gerry did it. Gerry likes Fences.More from this show
Hour 3. Drellich thinks Trump is a pathological liar while Gerry thinks Trump doesn’t lie as much as Obama. Kirk is sick of show promos and says K&C will no longer participate. Drellich says everyone did steroids just like everyone deflates balls.More from this show