COLUMBUS — Sidney Crosby isn’t scoring, but he hasn’t lost his sense of humour.Follow @SlamSports
Perhaps it’s because the Pittsburgh Penguins, despite zero goals from their superstar captain, can eliminate the Columbus Blue Jackets from the Stanley Cup playoffs on Monday night.
“If you see me in the room, hopefully you haven’t been able to tell whether I had three goals or none,” Crosby said after the morning skate at Nationwide Arena. “Your attitude can’t change.
“Hopefully, I don’t look like a guy who needs some counseling.”
The Penguins lead the Eastern Conference best-of-seven quarterfinal 3-2.
Including the last five games of the regular season, Crosby has gone ten games without a goal, as he has not scored since March 30, when he had two against the Chicago Blackhawks.
During the regular season, Crosby’s longest drought was seven games, which occurred in late October and into early November.
Still, Crosby scored 36 goals in 80 games and won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer. Crosby had 104 points as he was the lone player in 2013-14 to reach the 100-point plateau.
Crosby’s best game against Columbus was in Game 5, when he and Evgeni Malkin spent much of the game on the same line. Coach Dan Bylsma said “I do plan on feeling that out,” when the idea of putting Crosby and Malkin together again in Game 6 was raised during his morning press conference.
It could be that the Penguins can move on without a goal from Crosby, but the deeper they go into the playoffs, you would think they would need him to start putting the puck in the net at some point.
“I know that you can’t put all the emphasis on scoring because — I don’t think it’s an arrogant thing to say — there have been times when I have scored a lot and I don’t think I have been as happy with my game either,” Crosby said. “I don’t think scoring always tells the story.
“The thing you always look at as a player is the chances and what you are able to create. Understanding what that is and the difference (in not getting chances) is probably more important than anything.”
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A Columbus victory and it’s back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 on Wednesday night. If the Penguins win, they will get several days of rest before starting the second round.
“When you have this opportunity, you want to make the most of it,” Crosby said. “You understand they are going to be desperate, but you get in this position, you want to make sure you do it.”
The winner of the series will play the winner of the New York Rangers/Philadelphia Flyers quarterfinal, with Game 6 in that series going on Tuesday night. The Rangers are up 3-2.
The Jackets won’t have winger R.J. Umberger, who is out with a shoulder injury, nor defenseman Nikita Nikitin, out with an undisclosed injury.
For the Penguins, defenseman Brooks Orpik (undisclosed) did not take part in the morning skate, but was riding an exercise bike. Bylsma said his lineup overall would be a game-time decision.
Jackets coach Todd Richards doesn’t discuss injuries, but lost his concentration in that regard when he talked to reporters.
“Umberger coming out,” Richards said. “Shoulder. Sorry, not feeling great. Little slip there. Not 100%.”
Jared Boll will replace Umberger up front. On the blue line, Nick Schultz will be in the lineup.
The Penguins were stronger on the puck and on the forecheck in Game 5, but the prospect of facing that again wasn’t going to cause Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson to have a restless pre-game nap.
“I don’t think we are really worried about anything they are doing,” Johnson said. “We are not looking to change much or anything, really. We are just looking to go out and throw everything we have at them. We are not really worried about their forecheck or anything like that.
“We have to win the game. Doesn’t matter how we do it or what happens. Just have to win.
“We just have to get back to Pittsburgh and force a Game 7. If you can get back to Pittsburgh, all bets are off and anything can happen.”