Crosby's scoring struggles baffling


PITTSBURGH -- It is human nature, at least human hockey nature, to ascribe too much importance to one game in a playoff series, especially the first game in a best-of-seven series.

And so, whether you are a New York Ranger and part of a team that earned a 1-0 series lead, thanks to Derick Brassard's overtime winner in Game 1 on Friday night, or part of a Pittsburgh Penguins squad that seemed ill-prepared to start this series but rebounded with long stretches of dominance in a losing effort, a little perspective is important.

And while perspective is also needed in discussing the current status of Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and his pivotal role on this team in these playoffs, one thing that remains perfectly in focus is the fact that Crosby isn't where he wants to be or his team needs him to be.

When an elite player goes through a stretch in which he doesn't produce in the way that history suggests he can, it provides a convenient storyline, even if scoring goals does not necessarily tell the story of his value to a team.

This is especially true of Crosby, who does many things that aren't necessarily reflected on the score sheet. We recall his effort in getting back on defense late in the Columbus Blue Jackets series in the first round to break up a 2-on-1. He won a faceoff that led directly to a Chris Kunitz goal, even though he didn't end up earning an assist for his efforts.

Crosby said he doesn't think about it much once a game starts. He did admit that sometimes you can start to think too much about where to go to be in a position to score.

"Sometimes I think you can overthink it," he said Sunday.

It's better to just go out and play, he added.

And yet there is also something that seems missing at this stage from his game. His explosiveness, his ability to drive past defenders or to create time and space with which to make plays is not where it has been when he's at his best.

On Friday he was on the ice for all three of the Rangers' goals in the Penguins' 3-2 loss and was held without a point. The game marked the 12th straight postseason game without a goal for Crosby.

Although Crosby was not available on Saturday, it is a recurring theme when he meets with the press, which he continues to do unfailingly, often sitting through two media scrums -- one for broadcast journalists another for print -- sometimes twice a day.

"I don't sense anything from him, to be honest with you," offered Craig Adams, who has played with Crosby since joining the Penguins in 2009, a few months before the team won a Stanley Cup. "I can make assumptions. I don't know that that's necessarily a smart thing to do.

"I know from experience that guys that score goals like to score goals. And I'm sure he's no different, but at the same time Sid's shown a lot; I think that he understands that, well, first of all winning's most important and that goes without saying. If we win it doesn't really matter. But I think for sure he'd like to score a goal. I'm just guessing, throwing it out there."

Adams, like any of Crosby's teammates who are asked about the star center, remain unconcerned about the scoring drought. That comes from watching Crosby's work ethic and his multifaceted skill set.

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