Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Crosby a Two-Way Threat Penguins Center Excells on Both Ends of Ice; It Makes Him a Superstar

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Crosby a Two-Way Threat Penguins Center Excells on Both Ends of Ice; It Makes Him a Superstar

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - To aid the Penguins' pursuit of a second consecutive Stanley Cup title- something that hasn't happened in the NHL since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998 - coach Mike Sullivan consulted the last bench boss to do it, Scotty Bowman, and picked his brain.

Sidney Crosby has gone a different route.

Crosby hasn't arranged a face-to-face meeting with Steve Yzerman, his equal on those Red Wings teams. But Crosby has played a lot like the NHL player he grew up idolizing most, honing a two-way game that's better than you might expect for a player of his skill, one that has bubbled to the surface on numerous occasions this postseason.

"Every detail is so important this time of year," Crosby said. "You don't want to spend time in your own zone if you don't have to. I think the better you are there, the more time you're going to have to play offensively and the more energy you're going to have to create things offensively. It's an area that everybody takes a lot of pride in."

The Penguins have won six of their first seven playoff games for several reasons - they have the top four playoff scorers and a goaltender who has found his groove in Marc-Andre Fleury - but don't discount Crosby's all-around game.

Defending and own-zone play. Winning board battles. And even, as we saw Saturday, blocking shots.

While Crosby might not collect Selke Trophy honors the way top defensive centers Patrice Bergeron and Ryan Kesler do, he also produces more offensively than any other center who plays similar defense.

"I've always been a big believer that there doesn't necessarily have to be a trade-off between offense and defense," Sullivan said. "When you play the game the right way, a lot of times you can generate offense off of your defense.

"We can create some high-quality chances when we defend the right way. I think Sid personifies that. He's a guy that plays a complete game in the true sense of the word."

A perfect example from Game 2: Jake Guentzel scored a goal on a two-on-one rush that Crosby started by blocking a Justin Williams shot and poking the puck the other way, essentially beginning the breakout.

Some of Crosby's defensive numbers are out of whack this postseason because the Penguins haven't been able to consistently play with the puck as much as they would like. That has been especially evident against the Washington Capitals, where they've been badly out-shot (71-45) and out-attempted (171-86) through two games.

But over the past three regular seasons, Crosby's Corsi Against Per 60 (CA60) - measuring shot attempts against per 60 minutes of ice time - is 54.08. That's better than Anaheim's Kesler and Chicago's Jonathan Toews, a pair of Selke Trophy winners.

Scoring chance-wise, Crosby's 60-minute mark of 8. …

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