-- Sidney Crosby
scaled the mountain last season, and at the summit was the Stanley Cup.
Players don't get to that point on charm and good looks. It takes drive, determination and dedication. There's a price to be paid, and a lot of times that price is too much to pay two straight seasons.
But three games into Crosby's latest ascent up Mount Stanley, he seems even more willing to do whatever it takes to get back to the top.
Crosby had his third straight multi-point game to open the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, netting the game-winning goal and setting up another, and both came off plays when the opposition started with the puck.
In the final minute of the second period, he took the puck off Andy Sutton
like he was stealing a chicken leg off his dinner plate, skated through the zone, eyed the chaos in the Ottawa crease and scored over a prone Brian Elliott
for what became the game-winning goal.
Early in the third, he picked the puck off Nick Foligno
along the wall in the Pittsburgh end and tapped it between the Senators forward's skates to Chris Kunitz
, who sprung Bill Guerin
for a goal that made it 4-1.
Crosby now has 2 goals and 7 points in three games; last postseason, he had 1 goal and 5 points through the first three games against Philadelphia.
When asked if he was more driven to succeed this season, Crosby said no, that he's just playing his game the way he needs to play it to be successful.
"It's a challenge every night in the playoffs," he said. "There's not a lot of space. I think it's important you come ready to compete. For me individually, playing against those two guys on defense (Chris Phillips
and Anton Volchenkov
), it's going to be difficult. I have to be prepared to compete and find ways. It's not always going to happen, but you have to be ready to compete and that's what I've been trying to do."
Crosby may not think he's doing anything more, but to anyone watching, there certainly seems to be a little extra jump this season. It's most noticeable in the defensive end, where he made his presence felt for a second straight game. He had three takeaways in Game 3, and has five in three games, second-most in the League.
"I would say he's one of the Selke (Trophy) candidates," teammate Jordan Staal
told NHL.com. "He plays so hard on both ends of the ice."
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com