Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Arizona Coyotes Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 12th 2023

-

There will be an interesting matchup Tuesday when the Arizona Coyotes visit the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And that’s in addition to a game between two clubs trying to get into a playoff position. Arizona has lost three in a row since a five-game winning streak, while Pittsburgh has lost four straight (0-2-2).

The game will mark the first time Arizona rookie Logan Cooley will face Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby.

The ties between them might not be readily evident. Cooley is 19, the Coyotes’ first-round pick in the 2022 draft. Crosby is 36 and has helped the Penguins win three Stanley Cups. They aren’t buddies. They aren’t offseason workout partners.

But they are well aware of each other.

Their connection goes back to when Cooley, who is from suburban Pittsburgh, got signed up as a 5-year-old for the Sidney Crosby Little Penguins program the first winter it was offered.

Cooley is the first “graduate” of that learn-to-play program to make it to the NHL, and now he will share an NHL sheet of ice with the namesake of the program.

“It’s going to be pretty special, obviously,” said Cooley, who will be playing in front of family and friends in his first pro game in his hometown, in addition to playing against Crosby.

“Being a Pittsburgh kid, the Penguins are always on the TV, and you’re always watching him do his thing out there. To be able to share the ice with him and compete against him, play against him, it’s going to be pretty cool.”

Cooley had an assist Monday in Arizona’s 5-2 road loss to the Buffalo Sabres. He has three goals and 12 assists in 27 NHL games.

Crosby leads the Penguins in goals with 15 and is second on the team in points with 27.

The learn-to-play program offers free full equipment and up to 10 on-ice sessions for youngsters.

“It’s obviously pretty cool,” Crosby said of Cooley’s story. “When we started doing that, it wasn’t necessarily to have kids come out of it and make the NHL. It was more just to introduce them to the game.”

It made a huge impression on Cooley.

“When I first stepped foot on that ice, I knew I loved it and wanted to do something special with it,” Cooley said. “So it was definitely huge, and it was a huge start for my career. It’s super fun that I have a guy like Crosby to kind of get me started with the game.”

Still, despite that gratitude and being a fan of Crosby’s game, Cooley grew up with a different hockey idol — Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, longtime rivals of the Penguins.

That doesn’t bother Crosby.

“Hey, I respect his loyalty,” Crosby said with a big grin. “He’s holding strong on that. I don’t mind that. There are worse guys you can follow than Ovi.

“(Cooley) is a great player. He’s got an interesting mix of skills. He’s got a big shot, but he’s got really good hands. He skates well. I wouldn’t say he’s just a pure shooter. He can do a lot. So I can see why he likes Ovi, but I can also see other players kind of in his game, too.”

Perhaps even a little Sidney Crosby.

–Field Level Media

Docsports, The most trusted name in sports handicapping
About the Author
Scores And Stats
Click to Contact