Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sidney Crosby through the eyes of the Russian media

Lookin' Out Forever

The following article appeared today in Sport Express, and refers to the Nov. 15th game between the Penguins and the Flyers:

...The fans of the Flyers, perhaps, are the least sane group out of all the American teams in the NHL. It is fresh in the memory how one worthy representative of the "City of Brotherly Love" climbed into the Toronto bench in order to fight Maple Leafs forward Tie Domi. Judging by the recent match between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, it may still be possible to place Sidney Crosby as one of the new favorites among the fans of the black and orange. But there is still much for the young Canadian and Rookie-of-the-Year candidate to overcome before that happens.

The game in Philadelphia at first illustrated all of those doubts, but only at first. In the last 20 minutes, Crosby emphatically removed those doubts. The eternal "love" of the local Philadelphia fans might have served to rattle Crosby in the first two periods. After taking a stick end to the lip, the talented youth reacted strongly by shouting at the officials (finally earning an unsportsmanlike penalty), acting out his injury, and losing his composure. It reached a point where every time Crosby touched the puck, it was accompanied by the deafening boos of inhospitable Philadelphians. But nevertheless, Crosby is a true talent. Having the skill to succeed under difficulty is the mark of a star. In the third period Sidney suddenly regained himself, shook his arms, and led the Penguins to victory. He scored a goal, then set up another with a beautiful assist, and sealed the victory with a breakaway goal in overtime.

Comparisons to Alexander Ovechkin at this stage in the career of both players are premature, but judged on his own, Sidney looks powerful, and holds the official endorsement of the press in contrast to Alexander. Perhaps this is due in some part to the influence of Lemieux.

After the Philadelphia match, Sport Express had a talk with the "super-rookie".

For a rookie, there is probably no better way to make your claim than a goal in overtime. Would you agree?
For sure, the main thing is to win. But this is the best way to bring the team a victory. I had just barely jumped onto the ice when I took an outstanding pass from behind the line. Once I entered the zone, I looked to take my shot. It isn't always a good idea to carry the puck in past the circles, because by overtime the ice is very chopped up.

So you were able to exact revenge for being struck by the stick at the beginning of the match.
Anytime something like that happens, it's nice to be able to respond. But to take it upon myself to retaliate for sticks or fights isn't my duty. What is important is to do whatever I can in order for the team to earn two points.

But you still did react to the rough play of the other team, did you not?
Well, yes. The first time I took a stick, the referee didn't react. Then on the following shift, it happened again, and again nothing. This angered me, of course, though I probably shouldn't have yelled at the ref and given the other team the man advantage. My emotions took over, but I hope this won't become a habit.

Apparently, your chances for the "Lady Byng" trophy are finished.
I think so, yes. A long time ago.

Do they frequently try to provoke you by rough tactics?
They try, but I don't know if this is directed at me personally. This is what defensemen do with most forwards who drive the net.

In each game, you are given special attention, from both the press and the rival team. Do you not feel psychological pressure?
I cannot change my game, no matter how much they beat on me during the game. It is necessary for me to play the way that I know how. If I become distracted by any extra tactics from the other team, they gain the advantage, which is exactly what they want. My last two seasons in the junior league, there were also many journalists and rival players on my heels. I've already learned to concentrate on my own game.

Did you feel being the object of the fans in Philadelphia?
Already, yes. Home wins are much more pleasant. On the road, you celebrate only with your teammates. Wins on the road are more important, so it becomes necessary to get used to the schedule.

You are a skilled technical hockey player, yet you knew how to respond to the power game of Philadelphia. You don't have a problem, when it becomes necessary to push back?
I would not say that power hockey does not leave a place for technique. Simply, in this game they angered me, and I knew how to turn my anger into a positive result.

Can you comment on the race for the Calder Trophy? Is it already said that your chief competitor is Alexander Ovechkin?
I am not totally concerned with the battle for this trophy. In any case, we have only played 20 games, so we are very far away from it being awarded. I don't generally pay attention to the comparisons with Ovechkin. What occurs outside of my team doesn't concern me. Everyone says that he is an excellent player, but my main concern is helping Pittsburgh to win games.

(At the bottom of the article, there is a comparison: Crosby, 21 games - Ovechkin, 20. Crosby, 10 goals - Ovechkin, 15. Crosby, 15 assists - Ovechkin, 6. Crosby, 25 points - Ovechkin, 21. Crosby, -6 - Ovechkin, -3, and so forth.)