UNIONDALE, N.Y. - Before ever stepping on the ice, John Tavares was proclaimed to be the next Sidney Crosby
. Problem is, the current Sidney Crosby
isn’t relinquishing his crown just yet.
In Tavares’ National Hockey League debut with the New York Islanders, Crosby stole the show by scoring a goal, setting up another and burying the game-clinching shootout goal in Pittsburgh’s 4-3 victory at Nassau Coliseum Saturday night.
“Maybe (Crosby) wanted to welcome (Tavares),” defenseman Mark Eaton said. “I don’t think it matters who we’re playing against. Sid is one of the most competitive guys out there. That’s what he wants to do every night. It’s nothing new.”
“I don’t think Sid set out to set the bar for Tavares tonight but from the midpoint of the game on Sid did set the bar for us,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “He really scratched and clawed and showed a lot of character.”
In the process, Crosby claimed another spot in the National Hockey League record books. Crosby’s two-point effort lifted the 22-year-old to the 400-point plateau. By hitting the mark in 292 games, Crosby became the sixth fastest player in league history to reach the mark, trailing only Wayne Gretzky (197), Mario Lemieux (240), Peter Stastny (247), Eric Lindros (277) and Mike Bossy (283).
“It’s nice. It’s not something that I think about a whole lot,” Crosby humbly admitted. “It’s a nice number and I want to keep it going. It’s nice to join that company.”
That’s a particularly gaudy number. I feel Sidney is a relatively young player in the league. To talk about 400 points as quickly as that is pretty amazing. And what he does, it’s not shocking to talk about records as he goes along. - Dan Bylsma
“That’s a particularly gaudy number,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “I feel Sidney is a relatively young player in the league. To talk about 400 points as quickly as that is pretty amazing. And what he does, it’s not shocking to talk about records as he goes along.”
But Crosby, who has become accustomed to having his name etched in NHL annuls, puts more emphasis on team achievements than his own individual accolades.
“When I’m close (to a record) someone is usually reminding me, either (the media) or a friend,” Crosby said. “It’s good to get it and then move on. It’s a round number. You get it and try to move on.”
Crosby’s performance took away from Tavares’ much anticipated NHL debut. The 19-year-old, No. 1-overall pick in the June draft netted a goal and an assist in his first professional action. And while Tavares’ team came up short, he did flash some of the talent that had scouts gushing over him for the past three years.
“I thought John played well,” said Crosby, who understands better than anyone the pressure of being the top pick in the draft and playing in the NHL at 18 years old. “It was good for (Tavares) to get his first goal. It’s going to get easier and easier for sure.
“I played against him a bit. He looked like he was pretty responsible out there with where he was on the ice. You saw his goal. He’s got a nose for the net. He looked strong and he’s only going to get better.”
And with the Penguins and Islanders both playing in the Atlantic Division, the two players will surely square off against each other for years to come.
“You look for good players going against other good players,” Bylsma said. “We’re blessed with a few around the league. (Tavares) looks like another good player, special player. You can see that already building for down the road when two good players go head-to-head.”