Sidney Crosby loves history as a hobby, but when it comes to hockey, he is rarely one to reflect. He would rather live in the now. So when the Penguins star center who has been labeled the face of hockey for a decade or so was asked Friday about playing against one of the NHL’s whippersnappers, he deflected.
“I don’t feel myself looking back too much,” Crosby said after the Penguins practiced in Cranberry in advance of their home game Saturday against Toronto and big second-year center Auston Matthews. “I think the competitive nature in you just wants to go out there and (play). Regardless of what that matchup is that night, whether it’s a defenseman or an opposing center, could be a shut-down center; it’s something different every night – that’s why you love to play. You get up for those matchups.”
Then Crosby smiled as he further mulled the prospect of, at 30, being the old guy in a marquee matchup when it was the other way around for several years.
“I don’t think too much about when it was the other way,” he said. “It’s kind of shifted a bit, and I’ve learned to live with that.”
Crosby Has the Edge
This will be the fifth game matching Crosby and Matthews. Crosby might not reflect much, but he certainly hasn’t shrunk in head-to-head matchups with Matthews, the top overall pick in the 2016 draft – 11 years after the Penguins took Crosby in the same spot.
In the three meetings last season and one this season, Crosby has totaled three goals, two assists, with at least one point in each game, and a total of 17 shots. It’s pure speculation whether those numbers stem from Crosby getting pumped for facing one of the league’s young stars or just Crosby having Crosby-like games.
Matthews, conversely, had no points in three of the games, had a goal and an assist in the teams’ final meeting of 2016-17, and has amassed eight shots in the four games.
Asked Friday during a scrum with Toronto reporters after the Maple Leafs practiced about the challenge of facing the Penguins, but not Crosby specifically, Matthews referenced the Penguins’ big guns.
“You get up for every single game, but, obviously, when you play back-to-back champions, a team with that many future Hall of Famers, it’s a game you’ve got to be prepared for or else they’ll make you look bad,” Matthews said.
Crosby, who is part of a three-way tie with Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel for the team lead at 66 points, was complimentary to Matthews, who leads the Maple Leafs with 47 points.
“He just plays a solid two-way game,” Crosby said. “He’s got a great shot. Just finds a way to score goals. A guy like that is going to get chances, but we’ve got to make sure we limit them and try to get stick-on-puck since he’s pretty dangerous from everywhere.”
Asked once more about matching up not just against Matthews but also against Matthews’ fellow young stars such as Connor McDavid and Nathan MacKinnon, Crosby was pretty adamant that he doesn’t get or need an extra boost in those games.
“I think I’m pretty motivated, regardless of whether a guy’s younger or older than me. I think you’re always motivated,” he said. “I didn’t really worry about age when I was 18. I’m not going to worry about when I’m 30. Once you get out there, it doesn’t matter how old you are. Everyone’s trying to go out there and be their best.”