I always find it amusing when two completely different players get linked together forever in fans' minds just because they play on the same line, like Mike McPhee and Brian Skrudland did, or because they have the same first name like Doug Risebrough and Doug Jarvis (known even to their own teammates as The Dougies). Players get linked because they break in at the same time, like Tom Pyatt and Ryan White and a few years ago, Tomas Plekanec and Alexander Perezhogin. Sometimes it's because they're from the same cultural group or region, like Guillaume Latendresse and Maxim Lapierre were before the trade.
So really, it was pretty inevitable that Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn would become almost a single entity in the minds of fans. They're from the same place, they're both young wingers who sometimes play together and...the big one...they're brothers. The cuteness and novelty of a brother act on the team has pretty much blinded us to the individuals and the very different things they bring the team. I guess that's why trade rumours so often include "the Kostitsyns" rather than just one of them. There seems to be an impression in fans' minds that other teams are just as caught up in the selling power of two brothers on the same line as we are. In the process, though, we devalue both players.
Andrei Kostitsyn might not be the best player from the 2003 Super Draft's first round, but he's been a contributor for the last two years, with more than twenty goals in each, and he's in the process of showing us what he can really do this season. In the last month, he's used his speed, size, hands and shot to push the first line to dominance. We're seeing how valuable his contributions are now that he's hurt and the team just doesn't have a replacement for his skill set. Max Pacioretty is learning, but he's not at Andrei Kostitsyn's level. This is an important player on the team when he's performing the way he can, and he's worth a whole lot more than most fans give him credit for.
Sergei, on the other hand, is a completely different player. He's fast, chippy and also has a nice shot. But he has a vision of the entire ice surface his brother doesn't have, and he's more of a two-way player who can showcase his defensive abilities on the PK. He's also not the offensive force his brother is. We see his contributions to the third or fourth line when he's missing and Laraque is in the lineup instead. Sergei's speed and playmaking make the lower lines legitmate threats and that makes the team harder to play against. We're feeling his loss at the moment, almost as much as Andrei's.
But, they're not the same guy. Far from it. Andrei Kostitsyn has the potential to be a star in the NHL. He's got the skills and the ability to apply them and be a top-six player for a long time. Sergei Kostitsyn can be a solid bottom-six guy with speed and skill and the ability to pop in a timely goal once in a while. But he's not the offensive force Andrei can be. They're both valuable to the team in their different ways. But lumping them into one entity just because they share a last name is a mistake on our parts...one I really hope management doesn't get fooled into making too.