Maybe the guy is just tired… Maybe he’s effing exhausted.
There’s no doubt Crosby’s game is different than it used to be…
Crosby used to go 100% all of the time – Forecheck, Backcheck, Neutral Zone, Practice, Games, Training Camp, even vs. Talbot shooting pucks through a dryer in his basement – it didn’t matter – Crosby was the best and the hardest working player on the ice all rolled into one. This season, especially towards the end, he hasn’t been close to that…that’s not to say Crosby doesn’t care or he won’t play at that level again, but one thing is for certain, he’s not the hardest working guy on the ice every single night anymore. Sometimes he just works smarter, but for the most part, his back checking isn’t anywhere near the level it used to be, but I don’t think it’s because he’s lost a step, I honestly think the guy is just beat.
Has he really had an opportunity to get into any type of shape?
Crosby goes from playing 22 games in the two years from January 2011 to January 2013; to playing 130 NHL games, then playing an Olympics half way across the world in which he received no breaks all in the span of 16 months: He has fit almost two regular seasons worth of hockey into less than a year and a half.
And if Sid wasn't physically exhausted, add in the pressure from the Canadian media and the never ending expectations of Pittsburgh, and he's got to feel like it's a thank-less job at some points.
Despite the constant glare of the spotlight, Crosby still scored a point-per-game in the first round and wasn’t a liability at all - but he didn't dominate - so he gets criticized and nit-picked from all angles. The whole situation has to become exhausting at times.
I understand you can play your way into shape, Mario Lemieux used to do it all the time, but when Crosby goes from not playing for two years, at some points not being able to exert himself at all due to concussion related headaches- to playing 140 NHL/Olympic games in 16 months…I think it might be a little much, even for a player of Sid’s world-class caliber.
I expect Sid to hop out of his offensive funk this series, but I don't expect him to be the doggedly determined Super-worker he was previously in his career until next season at the earliest.