Crosby's scoring struggles baffling

"He can do a lot of other things," Adams said. "Obviously, he's a great playmaker and we've been seeing that throughout the playoffs. Made a couple of great passes [Friday] night that could have ended up in their net. Typically good in the circle. He's just a smart player, so whether he's scoring or not, he's someone you want to have on the ice."

Lee Stempniak has been playing on Crosby's right side for much of the playoffs, and he was asked about the recent scoring issues of both Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who broke out in Game 6 of the first round with a hat trick, his first goals of the postseason.

"I don't think anyone's really worried about Sid or Geno," said Stempniak. "They're great players, even if Sid hasn't scored. He's setting up plays. He draws so many guys that it creates room for Chris [Kunitz] and I. I'm not worried. I know it's going to come. It's one of those things ... you want to get them the puck because they do such good things but, especially in the playoffs, it's magnified how they're being covered, how they're being checked. It's on us to step up and use that extra ice, that extra room, and make plays, too."

Fair or not, the standard Crosby has established for himself by virtue of long periods of play that earned him the title as the best player in the world is one that is difficult to maintain, but it is nonetheless expected. And with the Penguins down 1-0 in this series, the need for him to return to that standard is even more imperative. If he can't, it seems almost certain the New York Rangers will win this series.

Crosby's history is marked by moments, sometimes short and dramatic, such as his overtime game winner in the gold-medal game in 2010 or his goal in the gold-medal game in Sochi a few months back that paced Canada to two straight Olympic titles. There have been long periods of play that have defied description. Yet recent history suggests something amiss, and it's in stark contrast to those otherworldly moments most people associate Crosby with.

There is the current playoff drought, but there's also the fact Crosby scored in just one of the Penguins' final 10 regular-season games. The Penguins' recent playoff history is marked by a plethora of one-goal games. That Crosby hasn't been able to deliver goals in those games has at least on some level contributed to the team's lack of success in those games. This spring, for instance, the Pens have played in six one-goal games and they have won exactly half of them. Coach Dan Bylsma said Crosby had 27 even-strength scoring chances during the first round, but they have talked about how difficult it is to score in the playoffs and that it's not going to come easily.

"That's something we know and have acknowledged," Bylsma said. "Staying focused, staying playing your game, staying at that level is where his focus is at, knowing that it's hard and it's not just going to be a free-wheeling scoring chance and get an easy tap-in or a 2-on-1. It's going to be hard and that's what we're expecting and what he's expecting, and, frankly, we've got to fight through it. We've got to fight through it with how we play and how he plays, knowing that that's going to be the case."

That said, the fact that the questions continue to follow a similar pattern -- what is wrong with Crosby, when will he score again, etc. -- isn't much of a surprise to Bylsma.

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