NHL: Crosby cred­its puck luck for start

Toronto Star - - SPORTS -

Sid­ney Crosby started last sea­son with the worst slump of his ca­reer. This year, even de­layed by con­cus­sion, Crosby is off to one of his best starts, with eight goals in six games.

He en­tered Mon­day tied for the league lead, de­spite play­ing only half the games. He has a 38.1 per cent shoot­ing per­cent­age (eight goals on 21 shots).

“I got a cou­ple good bounces,” Crosby said. “When that’s hap­pen­ing, you’re just try­ing to keep shoot­ing the puck and trust that it will go in.”

Find­ing the range: The Jimmy Ve­sey-pow­ered Rangers have scored at least five goals in five straight games. They are 10-3 over­all and 8-0 when scor­ing at least five goals this sea­son. The Rangers have outscored their op­po­nents 26-8 dur­ing this five-game win­ning streak. “You think it’s gonna stop, but we keep get­ting to five,” said Marc Staal.

An­other drought: Now that the Cubs won the World Se­ries, it’s up to the Black­hawks to end a dif­fer­ent kind of drought. The last time a city has been home to the reign­ing Stan­ley Cup and World Se­ries cham­pi­ons was 1939-40. The Yan­kees won the Fall Clas­sic in 1939, the Rangers the Cup in 1940. In 2009, the Pen­guins and Steel­ers reigned as NHL and NFL cham­pi­ons in Pitts­burgh. It hasn’t hap­pened with the NBA, with the Sharks miss­ing a chance in June to join Golden State as cham­pi­ons in the San Fran­cisco area.

Down time: In a bid to keep cap­tain Alex Ovechkin fresh through the play­offs, the Cap­i­tals are lim­it­ing his ice time. He is av­er­ag­ing the fewest min­utes of his ca­reer, ac­cord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton Post. His av­er­age time on ice this year has been 18:31, down from 20:19 last sea­son and 21:16 over his ca­reer. “He doesn’t play a light game; he plays a heavy game,” Cap­i­tals coach Barry Trotz said. “It may not feel great some­times right now, but hope­fully game 92 and 93 and 94, when we get into that, that’s when you’ll see, hope­fully, the ef­fect of sort of spread­ing the min­utes about.”

Light­ning quick: Things are nor­mal around the Tampa Bay Light­ning this sea­son. Quiet and nor­mal. There are no loom­ing con­tract is­sues, no play­ers de­mand­ing trades. It’s a wel­come change for Steve Stamkos. “This year has just been a lot eas­ier with re­gard to com­ing in with a clear mind. I tried to do my best last year leav­ing it at home, but it’s still in the back of your mind.”

Com­ings and go­ings: The Black­hawks signed 2016 sec­ond-rounder Alex DeBrin­cat to an en­try-level deal. DeBrin­cat leads the OHL with 17 goals . . . Thomas Vanek, whose lower-body in­jury has gone from “more of a weekto-week in­jury than a day-to-day,” ac­cord­ing to Detroit coach Jeff Blashil, has been placed on long-term in­jured re­serve . . . Colum­bus de­fence­man Seth Jones is ex­pected to miss three weeks with a hair­line frac­ture in his foot. Kevin McGran

Sid­ney Crosby, with eight goals in six games, was tied for the league lead de­spite health is­sues.

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