Saturday, December 06, 2014

Crosby puts in extra work in effort to end goal-scoring drought

Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, 10:45 p.m.

His teammates long had departed the ice after Friday's 40-minute practice at Southpointe.
However, Sidney Crosby felt like he required extra work.

Crosby, mired in the biggest goal-scoring funk of his career, stayed on the ice for more than 30 additional minutes.

This marked the second time in the past two weeks Crosby has given himself extended work after a practice.

“I'm always trying to work on stuff,” he said. “I've got to find a way to put the puck in the net.”

Doing so has been a challenge for Crosby during the past 17 games.

Crosby, who still leads the NHL with 33 points, has scored just twice in that span. Dating to last season, he has scored 10 times in the past 42 games.

Hard work, Crosby has long maintained, is the only viable way to eliminate a slump.

“You just want to get sharp,” Crosby said. “When your game's not where you want it to be, you try to work on stuff. It's not punishment. It's not always going to be easy.

“You've got to find ways to try and get better. That's what I tried to do today.”

Crosby has a history of scoring goals via deflections but hasn't mustered much luck this season. As practice concluded, he deflected shot after shot into an empty net as defenseman Christian Ehrhoff fired pucks in his direction.

Before goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury left practice, Crosby fired a barrage of shots at him, clearly working on the shot that once produced a 50-goal season.

Crosby showed there is nothing wrong with the wrist that plagued him in the postseason as he buried four consecutive wrist shots past Fleury during one sequence, all of them powerful blasts.

Almost all of the Penguins had left the ice, but Crosby and right wing Steve Downie.

Putting in hard work at practice is nothing new for Crosby. He stayed on the ice with defenseman Kris Letang for nearly an hour after practice two weeks ago — 18 hours after he had produced three points against the Boston Bruins.

He didn't produce any points in the Penguins' last game, a 3-0 setback against Vancouver. And he isn't thrilled with his play despite being without longtime linemates Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis, both of whom are injured. He also might be without right wing Patric Hornqvist, who underwent concussion tests Friday.

Coach Mike Johnston didn't rule out the possibility of playing Crosby and center Evgeni Malkin on the same line — “I'm not boxed in right now to needing to have our four centers on (four different lines)” — but wouldn't tip his hand.

Crosby's teammates aren't concerned.

“Everybody goes through ups and downs,” right wing Craig Adams said. “A lot of times with goal scorers and guys who get a lot of points, it can be streaky.”

Crosby, who missed Tuesday's morning skate because of illness, hopes a hot streak is imminent.
“It's always nice to get back out there,” Crosby said. “We have injuries. We have adversity. We have to respond in the right way.”

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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