He wouldn’t be fancy, Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby said, invoking that word specifically. He just wanted to try to help the team he captains when he returned from a two-month absence.
It might take a little bit of time, he predicted, to get his timing back, his full game back after recovering from a core muscle injury that required surgery.
That was before he returned recently from a two-month absence.
So much for being able to hold back. He is, after all, Sidney Crosby, and if his middle name wasn’t Patrick, it might well be Fancy.
In five games since he returned to the lineup, Crosby has three goals on 12 shots, eight points and a fistful of high-level plays that belie his long layoff.
And he has done that without his trusted winger, Jake Guentzel, who is out for at least the rest of the regular season after shoulder surgery.
Crosby seemed to have mixed expectations on what the Penguins’ layoff – 10 days between games because of the All-Star break and bye week – would mean for his game after being back such a short time, but if his level of play in those first five games back is an accurate precursor, he can be expected to be, well, Sidney Crosby. Or Sidney Fancy Crosby.
We offer some refreshers.
In his first game back, a 7-3 Penguins win at home against Minnesota, Crosby, no big deal, had four points. His goal came off a highlight assist from Jared McCann and was one his signature backhanders, but his assist on Dominik Simon’s goal when he reversed course behind the net and banged a pass to himself was surely fancy.
In his second game back, he got the Penguins’ only goal in a 4-1 loss at Boston, scoring in what was an unusual way for him – a blistering slap shot. If he had raced in on the right wing, rather than the left, Crosby might have owed Tyler Kennedy a royalty fee.
In a 2-1 win at Detroit, Crosby scored the overtime winner, deflecting in a feed from Evgeni Malkin on a move that is as familiar to Crosby watchers as his backhanders but still a fancy move at a critical time.
In a rematch with the Bruins, this time at PPG Paints Arena, Crosby pulled off a backward, between-the-legs pass to set up a Teddy Blueger goal during a 4-3 comeback win that was one of the Penguins’ most satisfying games of the season.
Finally, Crosby was stopped on another slapshot attempt and later set up Bryan Rust with another backward, between-the-legs pass, although Rust was not able to convert, in a 4-0 loss at Philadelphia. We don’t have a workable video for those, but you get the gist in case you didn’t see it.
The Flyers are up again Friday as the teams complete their home-and-home, albeit with the games 10 days apart because of the break. Who knows what fancy plays Crosby might conjure up that night at PPG Paints Arena?