Sidney Crosby is the most talented hockey player in the world. He does things with the puck on his stick that few hockey players have ever been able to do. On Saturday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, however, Crosby looked average at best.
The Bruins did a fantastic job of bottling Crosby up, and the Penguins captain was a virtual non-factor in Boston’s convincing 3-0 win in Game 1.
Crosby’s stat line pretty much says it all. He logged 24:21 of ice time, a number that shrunk with two penalties the center took. He was on the ice for two Bruins goals, thanks in part to some lackluster defensive effort. The cherry on top was his 6-for-17 showing in the faceoff dot, a far cry from his 54.3 percent success rate on draws during the regular season.
Perhaps where the Bruins seem to make the most impact, however, was how they frustrated the Pittsburgh captain. Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara was fantastic in limiting Crosby’s chances (just four shots on net), and Chara also seemed to rattle Crosby’s cage. The two were yapping at each other toward the end of the second period, and they really got into as the second period came to an end. After Crosby gave Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask some extra attention in a post-horn scrum, Chara immediately decided to get involved. The two captains were eventually separated by a referee, which is exactly when Crosby decided to really get into it with Chara. You know, when he had a human shield in front of him.
Maybe this sheds a little bit of light on the difference between the Bruins and the Penguins. The Pens have leaned heavily on Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, as they should. The Bruins, meanwhile, look for the balanced effort every night, something that has proved to be just as successful.
“Those guys are the best players in the world at this moment,” Bruins playoff hero David Krejci told reporters after a two-goal night in Game 1. “There’s no one like those guys. On the other hand, we don’t have guys like that. We have a team. We all play as a team.”
This is not to say that Crosby won’t bounce back. He almost certainly will, which is one of the many reasons he’s one of the best players on the planet. However, the Bruins have at least gotten into his head for one night. That in part earned them a win. They can’t get away from what they did to Crosby in Game 1, but it must be comforting to know that they have a pretty solid gameplan as they look to do the same moving forward.