Am up here in Ottawa to cover Rangers and Senators tonight, but found myself watching TSN as the Penguins won their 11th straight last night, 5-2 over the Maple Leafs.
And I found myself glued to every shift Sidney Crosby played. All 23 of them. Every second of the 20 minutes and 47 seconds he spent on the ice.
Because when an elite superstar athlete is on top of his game like Crosby currently is, I am compelled to watch, and watch closely.
Funny, a little more than a week ago I penned a column on why Crosby is so hated by fans and opponents throughout the NHL, and entered into the debate as to whether or not Sid the Kid is a dirty player. I certainly mentioned his greatness and his accomlishments, but the story's main focus was elsewhere.
Today's entry is different. I come to praise what I have been seeing from Crosby during his current 17-game point-scoring streak---and I have seen some of these games in person and quite a few more via the television.
What stands out most to me is Crosby's focus. Look at his eyes. Look closely. There is a fire there. Game in, game out. Shift in, shift out. When you take the incredible skill Crosby owns and then add the fire and passion and focus he is currently playing with, you have a near unstoppable combination. And right now, Crosby is just about unstoppable.
Sid the Kid has eight goals in his last four games---with two more last night. And he has potted 20 in this 17-game streak. 20, as in 20 goals NOT just points, in 17 games. As for points, he has 35 of those during the streak. That's two per game in a six-week stretch. In the current NHL, where scoring is at a premium, those are Gretzky-like numbers. Or for you Pens fans, how about Lemieux-like numbers?
But again, away from the numbers, it's Sid's focus, his will, his determination, his ability to take over pretty much every game the past month and a half. And doing that with little-to-no help from Evgeni Malkin---who is now sidelined after an already un-Malkin-like start to the season---and not one game's worth of help from the injured Jordan Staal.
He is playing with an edge, battling every shift, playing with a certain fury. Legal--and, yes, illegal---hits. Trips to the penalty box---three last night, including a cross check and a roughing minor that set off mini on-ice riots. But also a passion to dominate offensively with a skill and vision few can even imagine.
I thought Bob McKenzie did a great job last night on TSN in discussing Crosby's underrated skating burst and subsequent speed, not to mention his anticipation of when to take off on a potential rush or scoring play.
McKenzie summed it up uniquely and quite perfectly, saying, "Crosby is like the Road Runner. Beep! Beep! And he's gone!"
McKenzie also raised a great question last night: when exactly does Crosby hit his prime? He is 23 now, with 2 Cup Finals, 1 Cup Ring, 1 MVP, 1 Art Ross Trophy, 1 Rocket Richard Trophy, an Olympic Gold Medal, 3rd youngest player ever to reach 500 NHL points, and so much more already on his resume.
But is his prime still years away? Is he in his prime now already? If so, how long will that prime last?
By the looks of it, Crosby is getting better and better. 51 goals last year showed that. His even better play this year proves that again.
I know you may hate him, or be jealous of him, but as a true fan of the sport, you must also be somewhat in awe right now.
That's how good Sidney Crosby is at the moment.
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