View Poll Results: Is Sidney Crosby the best player in the NHL?
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05-18-09, 07:29 PM #1
Crosby taking game to another level
How many 21-year-olds in the world can claim to be the best in their profession? Actually, how many 21-year-olds are already working in a profession, let alone being the best at what they do?
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is staking his claim as the worldís best hockey player at the young age of 21. His play and poise at such a young age has impressed his peers, including 16-year NHL veteran and linemate Bill Guerin.
"I didnít realize just how much he does it on a nightly basis. For a young guy to have that sort of consistency, to have that sort of focus is really impressive," Guerin said. "I know as a young player myself, the consistency part of the game was probably the hardest to get by. He already has that."
The 38-year-old Guerin has been equally amazed by Crosbyís leadership. Crosby became the youngest captain in NHL history at 19, and is the youngest captain to lead his team to the Stanley Cup Final at 20.
"Heís in that position being the captain of the team," Guerin said. "He provides us with a ton of leadership every night. Heís not always saying stuff in the locker room. Itís on the ice, thatís where he does his talking."
On the ice, Crosby has been clutch for the Penguins this postseason. He currently leads the NHL in points (21), goals (12) and power-play goals (5). And he saved his best performance for the biggest stage, with two goals and an assist in the decisive Game 7 showdown with the Washington Capitals.
"Heís always been a tremendous leader in good and bad times. Right now, when he needs to be at his best, he is at his best," Maxime Talbot said. "For a fan, you saw him play against Washington, which was an unbelievable battle, a huge challenge for him, and he definitely stepped up."
"He seems to crank it up another notch," Guerin said. "You have to make sure you donít get caught just watching him. You try to get up there with him. He definitely has another gear. He makes things happen one way or another. Itís not just him passing the puck. He just makes things happen with the puck or without the puck."
Crosby is well known as a world-class playmaker. In fact, he is arguably the best set-up man in the league (along with teammate Evgeni Malkin). But for as much attention that is paid to Crosby making plays, he is one of the most underrated players in the League at finishing plays.
In his four NHL seasons, Crosby has posted 39, 36, 24 and 33 goals Ė his 24 goals occurred in a season in which he played only 53 games due to injury. And, as noted above, Crosby currently all postseason performers in goals and power-play goals in 13 games (more than Washingtonís Alex Ovechkin, the consensus top NHL sniper).
So while Crosby is receiving more attention now for his goal scoring, the Nova Scotia native claims he hasnít really altered his game.
"I havenít changed a whole lot," Crosby said. "I think Iíve played a little bit better. As a team, weíve played better as well. I think everybody benefits from that. For me, I donít think Iíve changed a whole lot. Iíve tried to improve my game a little bit more and make sure I was better."
Crosby has 10 goals in his last eight games, including his first career playoff hat trick in Game 2 against the Capitals. Crosby has followed an old NHL formula for scoring in the postseason Ė namely going to the net. The majority of his playoff goals have been scored within 10 feet of the cage.
"I think in general, thatís where you score a lot of goals in the playoffs because it is so tight," Crosby said. "Youíre not going to be able to beat guys one-on-one as much and get odd-man rushes. I think itís pretty clear to everyone thatís where youíll see a lot of pucks, especially at this time of year."
Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma believes that all of Crosbyís success and accomplishments derive from his relentless work ethic and competitive spirit.
"For Sid to raise his game and get 12 goals is remarkable to watch and a credit to the way he approaches the game and how he works," he said.
"Whether it's an optional or regular practice in the regular season after Game 72, if you come out and donít execute in practice, he gets perturbed and upset. He has a problem with that. That type of attention to detail and wanting to always be on is something that is ingrained in him."
Bylsma recalled a moment during the postseason when a Pittsburgh shot missed the net, bounced off the backboards and came to Crosby on the other side. The captain didnít score on that opportunity.
"The next day he went out and started shooting pucks off the backboards to try and replicate that bounce that he might get on a wide shot on a power play," Bylsma said. "He wanted to work on that situation, gathering the puck and trying to score from a bad angle shot at the net. He worked on it for a good six, seven minutes before practice all by himself.
"As a coach, I watched it happen and thought, ĎHe missed an opportunity, thought about last night, probably lost some sleep over it, now he comes to the rink early before everyone else and is trying to replicate a situation that may happen once every fifth or sixth game.í Heís trying to hone his skill in that situation."
"When things are tough you have to work harder," he said. "You work hard in practice. You stay out there longer and really try to find what you need to work on. Itís game-to-game. Itís not something that you look back and say I have to work on this. You just get more detailed but thatís basically it."
But for all of his accolades and accomplishments, Crosby hasnít lost focus of his and the teamís ultimate goal Ė the Stanley Cup.
"I donít think about (personal accomplishments)," he said. "Weíre halfway to where we want to be. Thatís the reality. Thereís a lot of work left. It doesnít change from year to year. This is why you play, for this time of year. Itís a tough time but the time you want to be a part of."
So how does the best player in the world play even better in the postseason? Maybe itís his natural talent, tireless work ethic, competitive drive, attention to detail or possibly all of the above. Whatever the reason, there is no denying that Crosby has an uncanny ability to raise his already mountainous level of play. And itís a pleasure to watch.
"As a sports fan you see the media write about different athletes in different sports," Bylsma said. "You wonder how itís possible to play at an extremely high level in the regular season and then somehow (in the playoffs) find a different level and shine when the spotlight is on."
And did we mention that heís still only 21 years old?
Crosby and the Penguins play the Carolina Hurricanes tonight in game one of the Eastern Conference Championship.
05-18-09, 11:39 PM #2
ovechkin is better. he is more complete. not only does he score, but hes more physical, he hits harder, he fights, and in my opinion he handles the puck better. crossby is insanely talented, but hes a huge whiner and a crybaby. and hes a bit of a pansy out there.in the warriors code there's no surrender, though his body says stop, his spirit cries...NEVER. deep in our souls, a quiet ember, knows its you against you, its the paradox that drives us all. its a battle of wills, in the heat of attack, its the passion that kills, and victory is yours alone.
the posts and opinions stated by me do not in any way reflect the values, beliefs, or views of my department. they are simply opinions and/or observations which have been developed through my personal experiences. hell, most of the stories probably arent even true...wink wink
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