Why the worry about Sid?

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- Situated beside Sidney Crosby's locker inside the dilapidated Mellon Arena is a cubicle dedicated to Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux, including a nameplate honouring The Magnificent One.

Of course, as nice a tribute as that might be, it's not as if No. 66 is going to make any contributions on the scoreboard in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final tonight, especially not from a lounge chair in his second-deck luxury box.

The expectations for putting up points for the hosts, it seems, will instead plop into the lap of Crosby, who curiously was being queried yesterday about registering just two shots -- none in the first 40 minutes -- during the opening game of he Eastern Conference final on Monday night, a 3-2 victory over the plucky Carolina Hurricanes.

Listening to some of the questions being posed to Crosby yesterday, one would think he is mired in a huge slump and not leading the 2009 playoff scoring race with 21 points. Strange.

Do you really want to know what is wrong with Sidney Crosby, Steeltown? Answer: Nothing.

Do you have such short memories? Did you forget how he outgunned Alex Ovechkin just one round ago?

Truth be told, the most pressing issue entering the second act of this best-of-seven showdown has nothing to do with Sid The Kid.

The talk here should be revolving around the absence of Hurricanes forwards Tuomo Ruutu and Erik Cole from Carolina's practice yesterday, a sign that both injured skaters might not be in the lineup tonight. Ruutu suffered what some suspect is a high ankle sprain, courtesy of an alleged slew-foot from Pens defenceman Mark Eaton, while Cole seemed to bang up his left knee in a controversial knee-on-knee collision with Matt Cooke.

Many are ready to offer the last rites to Carolina after just one game. That would be a mistake. The Canes were supposed to be first-round road kill against New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, the winningest netminder in NHL history. They weren't.

The 'Canes were supposed to fold against the Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins in the second round. They didn't.

If Ruutu and/or Cole can't go, the task will be daunting, no question. But as long as Eric Staal is shooting pucks and Cam Ward is stopping them, you can never count out the 'Canes.

This is the storyline that should be drawing attention, not Crosby.

But that is part of being Sidney Crosby. Like it or not, you are always in the spotlight. Like it or not, when you score three goals, some will still wonder: "Why not four?"

He knows it. He accepts it. And, according to 'Canes coach Paul Maurice, it was Crosby's defensive play in Game 1 that stood out.

"I wouldn't say it's an underrated strength (of his)," Maurice said. "People in the game understand (his work ethic is) what separates him from most players."

Crosby could care less if he hits the back of the net. Not if the Pens win. In fact, when the Pens receive secondary scoring from the likes of injury-plagued Philippe Boucher and the enigmatic Miro Satan, who spent a good portion of the season in the minors, it makes Crosby's life that much easier.

NOT BAD, EITHER

Boucher and Satan scored key goals in Pittsburgh's 3-2 win on Monday. Evgeni Malkin notched the other Pens goal. You may have heard of him. He's not bad, either.

"It's tighter out there," Crosby said yesterday. "There is less room. No big deal. It's the playoffs. You deal with it.

"I think we are confident, as far as our offence is concerned, that if we execute, we are going to generate chances, no matter what."

So relax, ye Pens fans of little faith. The Kid is all right. He has scored in six of his past nine games.

What's all the fuss about?


Videos

Photos