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Are teams taking it easy on Sidney Crosby?

Mar 19, 2012, 3:35 PM EDT

Sidney Crosby AP

Sidney Crosby‘s second comeback is now three games old and, for the most part, it’s gone well — he’s registered five assists, averaged just over 16 minutes of ice time and the Penguins have gone 2-0-1.

This got Bruce Arthur from the National Post thinking: Why is it going so well?

Aside from the obvious stuff like “Crosby’s a great player” and “Pittsburgh’s a great team”, there’s another explanation worth considering — that No. 87’s peers might be treating him with deference.

More, from the Post:

So far nobody has approached the line with the game’s signature player. Philadelphia snapped Pittsburgh’s 11-game win streak Sunday in a typically snarl-filled game, but Crosby was not among those bloodied, or even significantly bumped. During a 5-2 win over the New York Rangers on Thursday, Crosby was jostled and shoved when the opportunity arose, and as he put it, “Were they trying to do anything extra? No. But I don’t think they passed up on much.”

In a 5-2 romp over the New Jersey Devils Saturday, Pittsburgh outshot New Jersey 44-14, and Crosby flew around and was robbed of perhaps three goals, and Devils star Patrick Elias criticized his team for being too passive.

“We were hesitant,” he told reporters. “Instead of going after them, we were kind of looking around … They’re just hockey players. They’re good hockey players, but they’re just hockey players like us. We just have to play and not think about other things too much, like who we’re playing against. When we do that, we’re okay, we’re a good team.”

Arthur then brings up another intriguing point: Crosby’s teammate, Kris Letang — who missed 26 games this year with a concussion of his own — has been physically engaged since returning to the lineup (and in some instances, more than usual.) He received a big hit from New Jersey’s Eric Boulton, threw a big hit on Jaromir Jagr and got hit the face from Braydon Coburn during a post-whistle scrum.

Remember, both Letang and Crosby returned from their respective concussions at the same time.

It was Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky who, prior to Crosby’s comeback game last Thursday, offered up the “we don’t think about [Crosby], because we don’t really care about him,” quote. That’s all well and good, but eventually teams will start thinking about Crosby, and caring about Crosby — especially if he’s scoring at a point-per-game clip.

“Sooner or later somebody is going to hit Sidney Crosby like he is Kris Letang,” Arthur writes. “The question, of course, will be what happens then.”

  1. martysbetter - Mar 19, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    No one wants to feel the ire of the NHL in the form of a heavy-handed suspension for injuring their poster boy. In the event that he’s re-injured, you can bet whoever the culprit is will be disciplined with extreme prejudice.

    • revansrevenant - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:16 PM

      I had the same thought, and dismissed it as ludicrous. But maybe if there’s two people thinking that there’s a suspension in the future of whoever rattles Sid’s cage a little too hard, there’s more. And if there’s more, some of them are likely to be NHL players. Even if they think it’s as ludicrous as I do, they may just decide to play it safe. But that’s almost as ludicrous as thinking that the league will suspend someone for hitting Sid the Kid.

      • sabatimus - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:57 PM

        Given Shanny’s stellar track record this year, who knows?

  2. abrienza428 - Mar 19, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    To an extent, certain players will probably let up on him. How could it not be in the back of your mind that this has been the most talked about situation for a year now?

    That said, there are probably players who will try harder to hit him because it’s Crosby.

    And for the record, nobody will “take it easy” on him in the playoffs. If they do, it’ll only be for 4 games or so.

  3. fleurysteeth - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    I think the real question to ask is “Is Sidney Crosby taking it easy on NHL teams?”

    We all know the answer. Sid, being the true kind hearted sex symbol that he is, is taking pity on other teams. He does not want to shatter the 99% teams playoff dreams. what a sweet heart. He should be the Captain for the whole NHL. Perhaps a double CC on that body carved out of wood.

    SCA.

    • vismund11 - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:53 PM

      bahahaha

    • subliminalnoize - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:37 PM

      I don’t understand how you could even mustard the energy to utter such recockulessness, while having the swollen member of Cindy jammed down the whole of your yammering skull cave.

  4. bihler7 - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    When Crosby came back the first time he played the same game that he always did, which involved retaliating (yes the occasional cheap shots) and after the play scuffles that you saw him involved in often throughout the course of a game.

    One thing this time around that I wanted him to change was to stay out of that stuff and just play the game; if you have noticed in his 1st 3 games back this time he has, he repeatedly skated away especially yesterday vs. the Flyers when the scuffles broke out.

    This definitely had to of been a topic of conversation between him and team management. If he just realizes to play the game with just skill and not worry about that other stuff players will not target him as much as they did before.

    • abrienza428 - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:10 PM

      I noticed that as well. Last comeback, it seemed he wanted to send a message that he wouldn’t back down from anybody. This time, he’s just trying to fit in, which is what he should do I think.

  5. jpelle82 - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    once his minutes start going up we will start to see more opportunity to get hit hard. i think the rangers lit him up pretty good, i know staal got up high on him a couple times. the flyers and devils were following the whole pittsburgh team around the rink like lost puppies for most of their games so i dont think the opportunity even presented itself to whack him good. he is a pretty elusive guy and very strong on his skates, he initiates contact more often than he recieves it anyway.

    • phillytommy - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:03 PM

      jpelle82- Following them around like lost puppies? Did you watch the game yesterday? Crosby had a few nice shifts but was taken out of the game for the most part, by a rookie, Sean Courtier. His best shift was in OT when he had space, made a couple nice moves, but missed the net. As for the first 40 minutes, the Flyers were brutal, but Bryz, yes Bryz, kept them in it. Did you forget about the 3rd period and OT? I guess the final score doesn’t matter any more. Flyers completely dominated the 3rd. I hope one of these teams wins the East so we don’t have to see this match up in the 1st round. I know every other team in the east wants this so one of them get knocked out.

  6. claysbar - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    as a Pens fan, I read a great article and had to laugh….

    http://www.downgoesbrown.com/2012/03/great-eight-look-at-most-likely-stanley.html

    read the line on the Pens, GO PENS!!

  7. govtminion2 - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:15 PM

    Soupcan is a total sweetheart. Totally agree with the CC idea. And to answer what might happen if someone would try to hit the almighty soupcan, just look at the ugly gingers face, you will find your answer. SCA-CC-4L

  8. letangusespertplus - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    Yeah it speaks volumes about sid’s character that he is holding all that potential back to make the rest of the league look average. Such a martyr.This modest beauty will wait for the rest of the gene pool to catch up to his succulent thighs and amazing physique and technique before he unleashes all his might on the leagues other goalies. MAF is spared for having such a gorgeous smile. This is all in the bible under Crosby 3:15

    check your facts kids.

    SCA-CC-4L

    • steelcityfranchise - Mar 19, 2012 at 9:45 PM

      I commend him for playing left handed when we all know he is actually right handed….he is a pure class act and doing all this with a man mountain swaying majestically between his legs.

      Why are you fools hating on this lovely soup can when all he does charm you with his boyish good looks and superior skill level?

  9. govtminion2 - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    I’m never one to question the genius that is Disco Dan, but can’t help to think that Tyler Coke Bottle Kennedy does not belong on the same line as the CC Soupcan?

  10. govtminion2 - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:44 PM

    Oh, and Bryz drinks pee. SCA-CC

  11. watermelon1 - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    What happens then? Automatic suspension and cheap imagined penalty calls would be my guess.

  12. me6661973 - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    Well let’s see flyers game was a lost he score nothing and had 3 shots the whole game on goal. Breire was even handling him. I think he coward down knows hartnell was going be on him but hartnell saw he was so scared he decided go after other two real players malkin and neal. Crybaby would be nothing without malkin.

    • blkeskimo1785 - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:13 PM

      You FAIL at engrish.

    • steelcityfranchise - Mar 19, 2012 at 8:18 PM

      I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  13. bagjr387 - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    i think people forget that he isnt exactly easy to hit.

  14. stakex - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    Teams are playing Crosby soft for one simple reason: Hes the NHL’s poster boy and you know damn well hes going to be protected far more then anyone else. If you get near him, its going to be a penelty. If your hit is even slightly questionable its going to be a suspension. If you hurt him? Heh…. good luck not getting suspended for the foreseeable future.

    Think about it like this: Mark Stuart was only fined for a very questionable hit on Marcus Johansson the other day. Had that hit been delivered to Crosby instead of Johansson do you REALLY think Stuart would have only been fined? If you honestly think the punishment would have been the same if the hit was on Crosby your very naive.

  15. sabatimus - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:56 PM

    Teams should be checking him into the boards all the time. Why not? Do everything in your legal power to get him off his game, NHL PR be damned.

  16. blackandyellow71 - Mar 19, 2012 at 10:00 PM

    As a Penguin fan myself I can’t tell you how annoying the comments following any article about them have become. There is no soup can army, just one dude obsessed with Sid’s jock. Give it up. You’re part of the reason hockey fans love to hate the Penguins. I wish PHT was moderated as tightly as. PFT.

    • bmoreredfury311 - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:31 PM

      thank you !!! your fellow fans seem to forget about all the other great talent you have on this team and that’s coming from a caps fan. unfortunately your probably deemed a traitor now for not talking nice, about Cindy and said soup can army.

  17. govtminion2 - Mar 19, 2012 at 10:33 PM

    CC SCA. Blacknyellow71 also drinks pee. Speaking of jocks, why don’t you get off the army’s jock and come up with some original thoughts instead of crying to the writers…If soupcan knew what a girl scout you are, he would probably punch you in the kidneys CC SCA. Good Day

  18. blomfeld - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:32 PM

    Are teams taking it easy on Crosby ?

    and like, do fish prefer water ? … or like, do cows eat grass ? Obviously this Halford is being facetious, as any intelligent life form watching hockey today, can easily see “the deal” for what it is … nonetheless and simply put, the laws of nature and physics are completely arrayed against Crosby, such that he is unlikely to get anywhere “close” to what his predecessors accomplished in their prime …

  19. pensfan0782 - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:23 AM

    I am a huge Pens fan but am commenting this objectively (and drunk).

    Yes. of course other players are taking it easy on crosby. but i understand hockey is competitive. but they are people. they should not want to hurt each other and they don’t. they don’t want to hurt each other. thats why fights are generally respectful, as funny as it sounds. they are not trying to kill each other. nobody wants to end another players career for a few moments of shine from a big hit. i dig it. players should think of each other as people first, competition second. i undertsnd sports are a big part of USA culture but thats not what’s importatn here. we should car e about each other and the welllbeing of them. not try to kill each other. have sportsman like competition and respect each other. i speak on behalf of all players.. not just sid. sid should be treated like the rest. i just think it needs toned down a little. sure a big hit is great. but the result should not be injury. just removing them from the play. we are all people on this earth and should not put sports above that

  20. sjm1717 - Mar 20, 2012 at 7:10 AM

    Wow…what amazing insight. It is hard to believe that people get paid to write things like this.

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