My struggle with confidence and my inner hockey demons are well documented, so it was quite surprising for me to see Sidney Crosby play on Monday night in the Eastern Conference Final. The Pittsburgh Penguins captain and center has struggled to score in his last eight games, going goalless and providing only three assists. After being named a finalist for the Hart Trophy, it seems the Pens’ captain has come up dry recently on the scoresheet.
Watching Crosby play I see a guy who is trying to break out of the frustration but can’t seem to find the way out. NBCSN’s analyst duo of former player Jeremy Roenick and former coach Mike Milbury spent a good portion of the second intermission discussing Crosby’s problems. I believe if you took them to Madison Square Garden and gave them seats in the 200 Level they’d join in on the “Cindy” chants when Crosby stepped on the ice. No really, I’m serious. Some Rangers fans do it and I think both of them would too.
Their “expert” analysis was to say that Crosby was pouting, he should be shooting more and he’s not skating hard enough. It’s possible that he’s not shooting enough because he’s looking to pass because goals aren’t coming. As for the other thoughts , I’m not sure if I’d go there. I think Crosby is an emotional player who lets the game, or how his game is going, get to him. He still tries so hard to find the answers to his goal scoring issues that it bothers him. The weight of it all.
I get that emotional weight. That struggle to find your game. I know what it’s like to play and have fun then turn around at some point and struggle with that emotion. It’s what makes Wayne Gretzky so amazing to me. He was able to score so much over his career and put up so many points without a struggle or so it always seemed.
None of us quit. I know Crosby’s problem because it mirrors mine. That struggle to carry that weight we put on ourselves. How do we carry it? How can we expect to carry it? I’m trying to learn the hardest sport in the world at my age and pushing myself to do it at a high level. Crosby is pushing himself to carry his team at a high level to the Cup. He’s carrying a heavier weight but we’re both carrying a stick shaped weight. Guess that’s why it’s so hard to score? The stick is too heavy.
Of course, as I finish this he flexed his muscles and scored the OT winner. There’s the return of the Crosby smile. Guess it’s time for me to find my way.