By Shelly Anderson
April 10, 2012
Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins handles the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers during the game at Consol Energy Center on April 7, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Skating over the blue line, Sidney Crosby still finds himself pondering a little about what comes next.
That makes him just a mite envious of his Penguins teammates who have played all season and are performing heavily on instinct.
"They go in and they don't have to worry about stopping in the [defensive] zone," Crosby said. "They have to think about it, but it's becomes more [a habit]. I miss that. I miss it feeling automatic."
Only a well-trained eye could pick up on that rustiness. Crosby has been out most of the past 15 months because of concussion and neck problems, but he has stormed back in his latest, second comeback.
He enters the first-round playoff series against Philadelphia, beginning Wednesday at Consol Energy Center, with 25 points -- six goals and 19 assists -- over 14 games since returning to the lineup.
Where many might see an impressive average of 1.79 points a game in that month-long stretch, Crosby sees room for improvement, especially with goals.
"It's more of a timing thing for me," he said. "I want to make sure I take advantage of [scoring opportunities]. When you get to the playoffs, you're not going to get five, six a game. It could be two.
"I've been trying to focus on every little detail and make sure I improve. Sometimes it just takes time, but it hasn't been from a lack of effort. I knew coming in that it's a little tougher jumping in in March than it is jumping in in November. It's a different style. The games are different, faster-paced."
Crosby first returned to the lineup this season on Nov. 21, to great fanfare after he had been out since Jan. 5 -- more than 10 months spanning two NHL seasons. He had two goals, two assists in a 5-0 win at home against the New York Islanders. His numbers wilted a bit -- no goals, eight assists -- over the next seven games before recurring symptoms again forced him out of the lineup.
Back to watching. Back to waiting. Back to wondering when he would feel normal for good -- his version of normal being one of the best hockey players, if not the best, on the planet.
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/penguins/sid-regaining-his-hockey-instincts-630697/
For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @pgshelly.
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