PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – When the face of the NHL is scoring just once every fifth game, you know something is wrong.
The problem for the Penguins is nobody is quite sure what exactly it is that’s holding Sidney Crosby back.READ MORE: North Hills Special Response Team Hosts Toys For Tots Drive
“The Fan Morning Show” sought out an explanation for Crosby’s struggles from two former Penguins players turned television analysts on Friday – ROOT Sports’ Bob Errey, and Sportsnet’s Colby Armstrong.
Errey thinks that the talent around Crosby is a big part of the problem.
“There hasn’t been any diversion from Sid,” Errey said. “He’s played a power game all his life, where he’s been able to just run right through players, with his high octane-type game and everything else,” Errey said. “But…it’s easy to gear on a player like that, to focus on a player, to run your whole game plan around attacking a player like Sidney Crosby. Quite frankly, it’s pretty hard to do it alone. You need linemates. Sidney Crosby needs linemates to take some of the pressure off him.”
“You can’t put all the blame on Crosby,” Errey said. “You see him working hard, you see his leadership in other forms every day in practice.”
Armstrong, who played on a line with Crosby during his career, feels that the constant juggling of lines due to performance and injuries might be both a product of and a contributor to Crosby’s struggles.
“It hasn’t worked all year, his line’s being flipped around and flopped around,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong said that Crosby’s struggles and the Penguins’ struggles have gone hand-in-hand.READ MORE: Championship Saturday: Pitt Fans Ready For Big Game Against Wake Forest
“Just watching him, I think he’s throwing the puck away a lot, just like blind passes, I think, for one,” Armstrong said. “Much is to be made about their defense not being able to move the puck and get it to him, but at the same time, there’s times where he just gets it and throws it. He’s not taking the puck and holding on to it and creating all those plays, and doing what he’s usually done…I just think it’s a confidence thing, and I think it’s now boiled down to a group confidence thing with the team. Watching their game, it’s like it’s snowballed into a full team confidence issue.”
Solving the Crosby and the Penguins’ issues will be tricky for new head coach Mike Sullivan, but Errey thinks that a power play jump-start could be a cure-all.
“Quite frankly, frustration is mounting right now,” Errey said. “A lot of it’s the power play…I think all the problems lie right there, all the confidence, everything else. These power play guys, they feast off that power play, and they get more confidence and get better with points sitting on the board, and they’re not getting any of those free points on that power play. As soon as that thing rolls in, this Penguins team will get the shackles off and get it going.”
In Armstrong’s mind, an old-fashioned jolt could be a quick solution for the Penguins, or at least something that’s worth a shot.
“I just think with the overall team, I think it’s just something they have to work out together,” Armstrong said. “I think they’re going to need some big thing. You know what we used to do back when I started…you used to get in a fight, or you used to get in a line brawl, or something that’s frowned upon nowadays like that, that used to be, like, normal. And you get the team going, and you get something to rally behind, and you get something going that everyone can be on board with. So you know, maybe I’m crazy saying that, but that’s just what I would do.”
Errey agreed that the team needs to toughen up, and said that the Pens should find ways to rally when faced with incidents like Brandon Dubinsky’s cross check to the neck of Sidney Crosby, or T.J. Oshie’s dangerous hit on Beau Bennett.
“Your team’s got to be all-in,” Errey said. “I mean, you’ve got to be all-in, and when I say that, I mean all-in. I don’t know if somebody’s got my back. I don’t know if I’m Beau Bennett, and I get hit cheaply from behind, that somebody’s going to come in. Like, that cannot be tolerated. There’s no way. That can’t be tolerated…it happened again in Columbus…I’m talking about the face of the league, the face of the Penguins, and when you get knocked down like that, I’d like to think that if it happened to me, if it happened to Mario [Lemieux], if it happened to Kevin Stevens, or it happened to Larry Murphy, or if it happened to anybody – I know that somebody would have my back. Those are the kinds of things where a team really bonds in those kinds of situations. You need bonding moments…you’ve got to be as-one everywhere, everywhere along the way.”
The interviews can be heard here: