Sid the Kid proving to be money player

Penguins' Sidney Crosby skates off the ice after being hit in a game against the Capitals on May 13...

Penguins' Sidney Crosby skates off the ice after being hit in a game against the Capitals on May 13 in Washington.(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

TED WYMAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:34 AM ET

Excuse me if I'm a bit hard to understand this morning - my mouth is chock full of my own words.

Yes, I'm eating everything I said in this space about Sidney Crosby a couple of months ago.

At the time, I suggested Sid the Kid was somewhat overrated. He wasn't putting up points at a rate many hockey pundits expected, the team he captains was sitting out of playoff position and Crosby seemed to not even be the best player on his own team, with Evgeni Malkin lighting up the NHL scoreboard.

The mid-season MVP assessment pointed to Alexander Ovechkin, Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Jarome Iginla, Mike Richards, Zach Parise and others as better candidates than Crosby.

It's pretty hard to call him overrated now.

Since February, Crosby has been a different player. Sure, he still whines to the refs way too often, but he has elevated his game -- in all facets -- to an elite and dominant level.

He led the Penguins to one of the best second-half records in the NHL and has taken the playoffs by storm, racking up goals and points as his team marched into the Eastern Conference final.

Even when faced with a head-to-head matchup against the league's most talented and exciting player -- Ovechkin -- Crosby more than held his own, despite not being nearly as flashy, and eventually his team prevailed in a thrilling seven-game series.

While Ovechkin dazzled with his stickhandling, big hits and ability to score from anywhere in the offensive zone, Crosby scored like he was the second coming of Paul Fenton, banging in goals from around the crease all series long.

Crosby has gone to the net like a power forward throughout the playoffs and taken his punishment while putting up a cool dozen goals.

Meanwhile, he is one of the best faceoff men in the league, a talent which improves his standing as a defensive player immensely.

An apropos description of Crosby that I read this week was "the league's most talented grinder."

Crosby and the Penguins are now the highest seed remaining in the Eastern Conference and are favourites to get to the Stanley Cup final for the second straight year.

And if they were handing out the Conn Smythe Trophy today, there's little question who the playoff MVP would be.

If that's not the measure of a super star, we don't know what is.

GOALIE GULP: While Crosby looks like he'll be a force for Canada at the Olympics next year, the goaltending situation is a bit more of a concern.

Most people forecasting the roster of Team Canada picked Roberto Luongo to be the starter and Martin Brodeur to be one of the other two goalies. A lot of people were betting on rookie Steve Mason to fill the third spot.

After a first round in which Mason's Columbus Blue Jackets were dispatched in four straight games and Brodeur's New Jersey Devils collapsed against the Carolina Hurricanes, some doubt started to creep in about the trio.

After Luongo fell apart in a second-round loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, you have to be a little concerned.

He certainly didn't look like a guy who is going to carry his country to a gold medal. Obviously, the other two didn't either.

Which brings us to the Canadian goalie having the best playoff -- Cam Ward of the surprising Hurricanes (no, we're not talking about Chris Osgood, although he's awfully underrated for a guy who won the Cup last year and is taking another good run this spring).

Ward, a former playoff MVP is doing it again and the 'Canes are into the third round.

If you were picking today, you'd have to include Ward on your Olympic team along with Luongo and Brodeur and give him some consideration as the starter.

RANDOM THOUGHTS: Again, Bombers fans are left scratching their heads over the latest move by the team's braintrust (we trust they have brains, but aren't so sure), in which versatile defensive back Kelly Malveaux was dealt to the Edmonton Eskimos (who else?) for defensive end Fred Perry. These are both very good defensive players (at least Perry was prior to last season when he recorded all of one sack), but Malveaux was one of the Bombers' best and his presence will be missed in the backfield. Meanwhile, Perry joins Doug Brown, Gavin Walls, Riall Johnson and Tyrone Williams on an incredibly crowded defensive line. Have no fear though, there's plenty of time for Mike Kelly to send Brown and Walls packing, just like Malveaux, Zeke Moreno, Dan Goodspeed and Kevin Glenn before them. Yikes ... Given his status as a deity of sorts on the left coast, it's hard to believe the Vancouver Canucks will consider trading Luongo this off-season. But with Luongo's contract up for re-negotiation and Cory Schneider waiting in the wings, the Canucks could trade Bobby Lu for a cheaper front line player and prospects and re-sign the Sedin twins. It's not out of the realm of possibility ... The people enjoying the horrible May weather the most have to be the Manitoba Moose. When snow, rain and cold temperatures are keeping people away from the cottages and golf courses, they just might get down to the MTS Centre from some AHL playoff action. How's that for a silver lining?

ted.wyman@sunmedia.ca


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