Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Down the Stretch they come!

The Penguins have no hope in hell of making the playoffs, but Sidney Crosby still has the Calder Trophy to play for. With Alexander Ovechkin perhaps a bit tired from the Olympic experience, it's quite possible that a well-rested and motivated Crosby could have a terrific finish and make the Calder voting a lot closer than it would be if the season ended today. Maybe Crosby can use the fact that Canada snubbed him as extra motivation. Sidney may claim not to be disturbed by being left off of the team, but how could he just sit at home and not have the thought cross his mind that he could have done a lot better than some of those guys?

Crosby's first post-Olympic test? The powerful Ottawa Senators club.

Today's article comes from Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The Penguins have 23 games remaining, beginning with a visit by Ottawa to Mellon Arena at 7:38 p.m. tomorrow, and there is much the team, and its most celebrated player, can try to accomplish.

Crosby is hard-wired to focus on team objectives, not individual ones, but there are a few personal achievements with his grasp.

He trails Washington's Alexander Ovechkin, 69-65, in the rookie scoring race and is widely regarded as being behind him in the competition for the Calder Trophy, which goes to the NHL's top rookie. With more than a quarter of the season left, Crosby has a chance to hurdle Ovechkin on both counts.

He's well aware of the situation but hardly consumed by it. He figures, probably with good reason, that getting up in such things would be counterproductive.

"I'd love to have the opportunity to win [the rookie scoring title], but I don't think that's something that's going to be in my mind," Crosby said. "I've played hockey enough to know that when you start thinking about those things, you're not worrying about doing your job and playing.

"I'm going to try to have the strongest 23 games possible. Everyone knows [the Calder] is based on your season. If I can focus on just finishing off the year as strong as possible, having the best however many games I play, we'll see what happens."

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