Sidney Crosby, one of hockey’s biggest stars, suffered a disappearing act in the playoffs.
As a result, his Pittsburgh Penguins face an uncertain future with personnel and management changes on the horizon. Crosby admits he did not play up to his potential in Pittsburgh’s stunning collapse against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
“When expectations are high and you don’t win, that’s normal,” Crosby said. “I’m sure there will be a lot of questions. It wasn’t a lack of effort or competing or anything like that. I’d love to tear it up every series, but it’s not always the case. It doesn’t make it any easier, I’ll tell you that. It’s tough losing as it is but when you’re unable to contribute as much as you’d like, it’s even tougher.”
The Penguins were up 3-1 in the series before losing three straight games as Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist stifled one of hockey’s most dynamic attacks. It was a shocking turn of events for Crosby, who led the league in scoring with 104 points but scored just one goal in 13 playoff games. He led Pittsburgh to a division title in spite of a multitude of team injuries in what could be another Most Valuable Player campaign.
Going forward, Crosby’s supporting cast figures to change with head coach Dan Bylsma, who has enjoyed the most success in franchise history, on the hot seat. On the ice, Crosby’s partnership with Russian star Evgeni Malkin has not been enough to overcome Pittsburgh’s inconsistency on the defensive end.
In the long term, it remains to be see if Crosby can attain the level of success many predicted five years ago. For all the comparisons to Wayne Gretzky and his accomplishments on the national level – where he has two Olympic gold medals for Canada – to this point his only pro championship is the 2009 Stanley Cup triumph. While he is just 26, there are real concerns over the longevity of his career due to his concussion problems.