THN.com Blog: Crosby needs injury bug repellent

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Is he playing today, or not?

Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby missed Friday night’s game against Anaheim with a reported left knee injury – officially, of course, it’s a “lower body” boo-boo – but No. 87 was hoping to return to the ice against the Rangers.

Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t. For starters, Crosby told reporters he tried to skate Friday morning but, “I didn’t feel comfortable enough to play…It didn’t feel good.”

That’s not a good sign – and it’s definitely not what they want to hear in Pittsburgh, especially after injuries limited Crosby to 53 games last season.

Crosby was hurt late in the game during a 6-3 loss to Alex Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals Wednesday night. (Actually, Crosby was hurt twice in that contest: he left the game early with an apparent ankle tweak – or, perhaps, just a skate problem – and returned, then left in the third period and didn’t come back.)

Crosby has had his share of bumps and bruises; more than his share, even, for an elite, highly skilled player.

His style of play is partly to blame; Crosby will skate, leap and dive into traffic if he thinks it’ll create a scoring chance. He has great body control and coordination, but sometimes puts himself in a vulnerable position. And he’s not exactly huge (5-foot-11, 200 pounds), so big hits along the boards and knee-on-knee collisions can result in lengthy stretches on the sidelines.

More than Mario Lemieux or Jaromir Jagr ever did, Crosby will put himself in harm’s way – constantly – if he thinks a goal will result.

It’s a tempting short-term strategy, but given the way Crosby has been banged around the past couple of seasons, it’s fraught with long-term problems.

Nagging injuries can turn into chronic injuries, which in turn become frustrating seasons and, ultimately, a compromised career.

Like Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr before him, the injury bug is trying to take a bite of Crosby.

Will he succumb or bite back?

Sam McCaig, the editor of the The Ultimate Book of Hockey Lists, is The Hockey News' senior copy editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears every weekend and his column, From The Point, appears regularly.

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