SUN Hockey Pool

Pointless Penguin(!)

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:10 AM ET

For one evening, Sid was just another kid.

One night after showing up fashionably late in Edmonton, Sidney Crosby didn't show up at all against the Calgary Flames.

Save for a dangerous foray in the final minute of a tied game, he was silent all night.

Upstaged not only by two-goal scorer Jarome Iginla, Sid wasn't even the best 'Kid' at the Saddledome -- that honour went to 24-year-old Flames rookie Eric Nystrom.

Kept off the score sheet for just the third time this season, the man everybody showed up to see appeared to be someone who finally allowed all the rigours and distractions of this trip to catch up with him.

Having patiently hosted four press conferences in the first three days of his inaugural trip through western Canada, the 20-year-old Penguins captain wasn't nearly as entertaining once he hit the ice last night.

"Sometimes you bring your best every night and it still doesn't happen," said Crosby after the game, marking his fifth packed presser in 54 hours.

"Three games in four nights including two tough teams to play against ... I'll enjoy a little bit more of a day off tomorrow."

Oh sure the crowd got a rise out of a sweet deke through Cory Sarich's legs in the first. He also impressed hardcore onlookers with his ability to stay in perpetual motion.

However, outside of a late slapper turned away by Miikka Kiprusoff in the final minute, Crosby wasn't a threat to score or even set up a teammate for a pretty finish.

The anticipated clash between Crosby and his world junior teammate/sparring partner Dion Phaneuf didn't even materialize as the two went head-to-head only a few times, with relatively tame results.

All that said, Sid had the chance to make up for all of it -- and give fans their money's worth no matter how much they paid -- by converting in the shootout. Instead, after flipping a ridiculously tame shot right at Kiprusoff, it was clear his flair for the dramatic was parked somewhere around Leduc.

Not that it won't be back.

It's just that for one night Sid was just Sad.

Given the class, poise and jaw-dropping skill he's shown this and every other week in the NHL, his inability to make his mark here last night is not a scathing indictment of his abilities. It merely points out how impossible it is on some nights for a man of any age to live up to the hype that preceded his first flight west.

That's not to say those who spent upwards of $500 a ducat to see Crosby weren't privy to an interesting evening.

What would otherwise have been an ordinary Flames game against an exciting young team was turned into an event that had the city buzzing for days. So eagerly anticipated was Crosby's arrival, the media abandoned their pre-game meals early to watch him warm up -- an unprecedented move by the city's pack of overstuffed muckrakers .

Despite the home side dropping a 3-2 shootout and Crosby pulling the chute, it was a night few fans will forget due largely to the anticipation that comes with waiting two-and-a-half years for the game's next saviour to come calling.

The wait won't be as long for his next visit, begging the question: Is it too early to start hyping his return?


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