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Scoring or checking, Crosby just doing his job

by Shawn P. Roarke
MONTREAL -- Is Sidney Crosby frustrated?

The reporters covering this Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Montreal Canadiens seem to think so. In fact, even some of the Canadiens think they may be driving Crosby to distraction with their suffocating defense.

Crosby isn't buying it, however. No, he is not happy that he has just three shots in this series and has been kept of the score sheet after recording 2 assists -- both on the power play -- in Game 1. But he is happy his team leads the series after Tuesday's Game 3 victory, a taut 2-0 decision at Bell Centre. And he is happy to be contributing in other ways to Pittsburgh's success.

In Game 3, he drew the penalty that led to the game's first goal -- a power-play tally by Evgeni Malkin 1:16 into the third period. On the goal, Crosby was in the low slot, partially screening Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak. Crosby also has made several strong plays on the backcheck.

Wednesday, after an optional practice at the Bell Centre, Crosby talked about his mini-slump and how it is affecting him. He also discussed the importance of contributing in other phases of the game when his offense is not clicking.

On a happier note, he also talked about Jordan Staal's return to full practice just four days after suffering a lacerated foot that required surgery.

Question: Did the crowd in this building take you out of your game early in Game 3?

I don't know if that had anything to do with it. We were waiting and watching and our game is initiating, being physical, speed, and when we get caught watching we are a much different team. If you look at Montreal, they like to slow things down through the neutral zone and things like that and we are not that kind of team, so we have to make sure we get to our game a little better.

Question: You guys have to be pleasantly surprised that Jordan Staal is able to go through a full practice so soon after surgery.

Crosby: It's encouraging. Whether he is back right away or not, to see him on the ice, that's a great sign for us, and especially for him. I mean, it was pretty scary a few days ago, so that's encouraging. We'll see where it goes. But it's always a big step to get back on the ice.

Question: You're not getting a whole lot of shots, but you're contributing in other ways.

This is the playoffs. You want to create and produce and that is important, for sure. I don't think you can ever overlook that. You have that responsibility to your team to do that. But at the same time, you have other things you need to do, too. We're playing against (Scott) Gomez and (Michael) Cammalleri and (Tomas) Plekanec and (Brian) Gionta -- some pretty offensive guys, too. There is still some responsibility defensively. I think you have to work to create things, but you also have to be strong in other areas and still be able to contribute that way, too. One thing can't hurt the other. Hopefully, if you play solid in both ends of the ice, hopefully offensively things will take care of themselves.

Question: How much personal satisfaction do you get when you are not on the score sheet, but you know you did all those little things?

I don't think you feel any satisfaction. It's just a responsibility. It's not any different than a defensive defenseman or whatever the case is. Everyone has got a role, responsibilities, and you do those things for the guy next to you. You do those things for your teammates, the guy next to you. It's your responsibility. If you are supposed to backcheck, you backcheck -- whether you have scored that game or not. In that point in time, that is what you are supposed to do, so that is what you try to do.

Question: It seems that you get better in faceoffs over the course of a game. Would you agree with that?

I don't really follow when it is better and when it is not. Maybe you do see something and try to adjust a little bit. It could be a coincidence with power plays -- you get the opportunity to win a few more. I don't really know. I think the most important thing in the playoffs is you don't want to have to turn on a switch. That's why you work on those things all year. That's why you try to create good habits so when you get to the playoffs, when you get to those times, that hopefully it becomes natural for you to be ready in those situations.

Question: Do you feel better about your personal performance in Game 3 than you did in Game 2?

"I feel I didn't generate that much in the last game, but I felt I was in the right spots a lot of the time. I wasn't playing catch-up. I felt like I was in the play and creating things." -- Sidney Crosby

Crosby: I feel I didn't generate that much in the last game, but I felt I was in the right spots a lot of the time. I wasn't playing catch-up. I felt like I was in the play and creating things.

Question: So you felt better about Game 3?

Yeah, just a little more positionally sound and not chasing as much. As a player, that is what it is about. It's about reacting and anticipating and not thinking as much. I think just trying to be solid. Hopefully, if you do those things, you generate chances. 

Question: You want to be a player that even if you are not generating chances and shots, you want to be doing something?

I don't want to be not creating those things and hurting us in other areas. That's the worse thing anyone can do. There are times when everyone has tough nights. There are times when a defenseman or a goalie has a tough night and you let in a bad goal or a defenseman makes a bad play. You got to make sure you make up for that and you are strong the rest of the way through and you bounce back. As an offensive player, if you are not creating things as much, you better make sure you are not cheating offensively and getting burned at the other end, too. That just comes with trying to play the right way and that, in turn, hopefully will pay off in the offensive zone.
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