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Apologies Sid, You’re Not Old, but Others Are and They’re Struggling

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Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby

“Well, I don’t know if I fit into the older player category…” said Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby after chuckling at a question from Pittsburgh Hockey Now about older players struggling to get their legs in this compressed COVID season.

Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Claude Giroux, Eric Staal, Anze Kopitar are just some of the established names in their 30s who are scoring well below normal rates or have already battled injuries.

A crazy stat was sent to me on Monday night from a former team PR director.

“Get this, Daniel Sprong and Conor Sheary have as many goals this season as Ovi!”

I looked it up. It’s true. The Washington Capitals powerhouse has two goals. So, too, do Penguins castoffs Sprong and Sheary. Giroux has one goal. Staal has five points in 10 games. Kopitar also has just one goal.

In fairness, Ovechkin missed several games after the NHL put him into COVID protocol for visiting a teammate’s hotel room.

Malkin’s struggles are well documented in Pittsburgh. He owned up to decreased conditioning and his struggles, which were directly tied to pandemic closures and a lack of training camp.

“I understand I’m not playing great right now,” Malkin said last week. “It’s a different season. Short training camp. No preseason games. It’s a little bit different for sure,” Malkin said. “I need to look at myself in the mirror. I need to find my body, find myself and help the team win for sure and I understand that.”

Unfortunately, I have a unique ability to offend without effort. It’s my superpower, much like Sidney Crosby scores points or effortlessly scoops pucks for a lacrosse style attempt. Hopefully, Mr. Crosby laughed off the term “older player,” even if he is 33-years-old.

No offense Sid, you are kind-of an older player. Remember, being 20-years-old and looking at people in their 30s? Time flies, but I digress.

“I don’t know. It’s not easy for anybody. It’s a short camp and things like that. Everyone prepares differently and has their own opinion,” Crosby said. “For me, personally, I haven’t played a lot of hockey in the last year. I love that we’re able to jump into games and play every second day.”

Crosby is one of the “other side” of, shall we say, more seasoned players. Patrice Bergeron, Patrick Kane, John Tavares are players in their 30s who are ripping it up. Crosby has four goals and four assists in 10 games. Kane and Bergeron are scoring at a point-per-game pace.

“I don’t know if I fit into the older category or not, but I like (the schedule),” he concluded.

That’s fitting. Sidney Crosby wants to play hockey and play more hockey.

But there is a clear difficulty for many players to find a rhythm. Is it more difficult for the older players to get on their toes? It seems so, especially as Pittsburgh Penguins Bryan Rust and Jason Zucker appear to be on their game. Young Penguins players such as Kasperi Kapanen, Teddy Blueger, and P-O Joseph needed less ramp-up, too.

As part of his mea culpa, Malkin likely spoke for a lot of players.

“No (I didn’t do the same workouts this offseason) because of the situation. Everything was closed in Russia, too. We had ice, but we didn’t have any gyms. Everything was closed, and (workouts) were not easy to find,” Malkin said. “I won’t say it’s my fault. (Offseason workouts) are not the same as a training camp. I was doing my best. I skated every day and tried to do workouts after; use my body. Do squats, pushups.”

But Crosby, who sources said “worked out like an animal” during the pandemic, has had early-season success. For the rest of the mortals, the early season has been the training camps. The teams and players we see now should continue to improve.

Everything should improve. Maybe even the Pittsburgh Penguins power play, too.

Editor’s Note: We removed Sean Couturier from the list of players in their 30s who are struggling or injured.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Katz
Katz
8 months ago

What about Malkin and Letang’s play in the last two playoff series? Seems to this reader that their current play is far more of a continuation than any abrupt change. Their playoff performances against the Islanders and Montreal seem very consistent with their play this season.

Any suggestion Makin and Letang’s current play are anomalies , is simply willful denial of reality. And excuse making.

Puck Racism
Puck Racism
8 months ago
Reply to  Katz

Do you really think it is fair to include the Montreal play in after a 5 month layoff?

Steve
Steve
8 months ago

Still the best player in the game, IMO.
6 greatest players of all time and 3 are Penguins. That’s nuts. ( I have Crosby at 5). Best 2 way player to ever play this game, but in all fairness Mario and Wayne were never really asked to play D. Thankfully he’s still playing at a high level. Not much else going for us yet, except watching PO!

Andy
Andy
8 months ago

Couturier is 28 …

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[…] Pittsburgh Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby is on fire this season. But other big names have struggled out of the gate. (Pittsburgh Hockey Now) […]

Ricardo58
Ricardo58
8 months ago

71 acknowledged he skated daily. I’m confident a multi-millionaire can afford quite the home gym. I give him credit for owning that he failed to prepare adequately. But IMO, a lot of excuse making is offered. &7 sets the example. The Pens need 71 to return to excellence quickly or overnight he turned into the NFL RB who hit the proverbial wall. Go Pens.

Matt Gajtka
Editor
8 months ago
Reply to  Ricardo58

Yeah, I didn’t care for the ‘no gyms were open’ thing. There are ways to get in shape when you’re a multi-millionaire, even if you’re living in Siberia, or close to it.

David
David
8 months ago
Reply to  Ricardo58

I said the same thing before I read your comment. Buy some free weights and an exercise machine. Those aren’t that expensive.

Eric Bouchard
Eric Bouchard
8 months ago

like is said a few times before. I dont buy the They are getting older . To explain this teams AWFUL, performances. Same goes individuals Letang, Geno SId etc…. Nothing to to with the age factor. Those star players wants, need a change of system DOnt buy the system anymore. And its not even adapted to themm to the kind of team the have AnD the need some assets for the last 2 years they didnt get to play the same system. A coaching staff change would be really beneficial for them. ANd sooner than later. If they still want… Read more »

Katz
Katz
8 months ago
Reply to  Eric Bouchard

Management matters as much as Ownership. Yes this is a great franchise but inertia occurred for whatever reasons regarding making the difficult decisions regarding 71 &and 58.

All sorts of peripheral moves were made because of not making the difficult ones years ago, after the Islanders sweep. So we are where we are.

Also I believe several players in their 30’s are playing at very high levels including but not limited to Bergeron , Marchand, Shea Weber, Patrick Kane etc.

Please let me know how Malkin contributed in the last two playoffs ?

Last edited 8 months ago by Katz
Puck Racism
Puck Racism
8 months ago
Reply to  Katz

Please let me know how many cups Bergeron, Marchand, Shea Weber, & Patrick Kane won in the last two playoffs?
Last time I checked, hockey was a team game not an me game.

Katz
Katz
8 months ago
Reply to  Puck Racism

I thought the column was about “old” as an excuse/ reason for poor performance but go know.

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Frank
Frank
8 months ago

Maybe it is just me . .. but doesn’t it seems like at some point, just about every year, there is some discussion about the lackluster play of Malkin? At this point it does not really matter. He is who he is. An outstanding player, that does not quite have the commitment to succeed as much as others. He is essentially a player that could have been viewed as a great player, but fell just a little short and never quite entered that circle. All that said he was a huge piece of Penguin success and should be recognized for… Read more »

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David
David
8 months ago

I don’t understand the, “there were no gyms open,” comment. Malkin obviously has a lot of money. Buy home gym equipment. It is not that expensive to buy some free weights and even and exercise machine. I’ve used those for decades and I certainly don’t get paid 9 million a year.

David
David
8 months ago

Malkin has been injured and out ALOT. Same with Letang. Crosby, except for the concussion, and the doctors misdiagnosing him for a year, has not missed that much time due to injury. I think that there are athletes that are prone to injury and some that are not. Many factors — style of play, gene pool, and nutrition. Either way, Malkin has looked like age is catching up to him. Crosby has not.

David
David
8 months ago

Malkin has made how many tens of millions and he couldn’t build a decent little gym in his den or basement? What would that cost, $20k at most?

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