Leafs in for a tough night against Crosby

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:34 PM ET

PITTSBURGH — The skill level is obvious, but there are enough of those guys scattered around the NHL.

But what makes Penguins captain Sidney Crosby more difficult to stop than your ordinary superstar is the other stuff he does both away from the puck and with his physical play.

“He’s one of the most difficult guys to play against for me personally because he’s got the work ethic,” Maple Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn said on Tuesday following practice here in advance of Wednesday’s game against the Pens.

“He’s obviously one of the most skilled guys in the league, but he also competes the hardest, which is what makes him so special.”

Former teammate Colby Armstrong says that unlike some snipers, Crosby needs to be checked wherever he is on the ice, including his own end.

“He’s dangerous wherever he is,” Armstrong said. “He’s the kind of guy who can turn a simple chip outside the zone into a scoring chance coming out of his own end. You have to keep him in check before he even gets in the offensive zone.”

As with so many of the league’s top players, Crosby often seems to save his best work for the Leafs. In 21 games against Toronto, he has 15 goals and 18 assists for an average of more than a point and a half per game. After limiting Alex Ovechkin’s effectiveness on Monday in Washington (Ovie scored a goal but was checked closely most of the night) Crosby is the next challenging assignment for the Leafs.

“He’s the hottest player in the league right now,” Leafs assistant coach Rob Zettler said. “The way he picks up passes and makes plays in transition is incredible.”


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