Crosby in class by him­self at World Cup

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Larry Lage

TORONTO >> Sid­ney Crosby has been sur­rounded by the best hockey play­ers on the planet at the World Cup of Hockey, and still seems as if he is in a class by him­self.

“He’s prob­a­bly the best player of our gen­er­a­tion,” Canada goal­tender Carey Price said.

The Pitts­burgh Pen­guins su­per­star has a World Cuphigh nine points — two more than any­one else — and is within a win of adding an­other ac­com­plish­ment to his Hockey Hall of Fameready re­sume. Canada will play Team Europe in Game 2 Thurs­day night, lead­ing the best-of-seven se­ries 1-0.

The eight-na­tion Euro­pean team has been led lately by To­mas Tatar, who scored his team’s only goal in a 3-1 loss Tues­day night. The Slo­vakian for­ward scored twice, in­clud­ing the game-win­ner, in a 3-2 over­time vic­tory over Swe­den in the semi­fi­nals on Sun­day.

Tatar, who plays for the Detroit Red Wings, ac­knowl­edged he is in­spired by Crosby’s great­ness. And he knows slow­ing Crosby down is a key to forc­ing a Game 3 on Satur­day night.

“I’m not say­ing one guy should be stand­ing by him, but we should be al­ways aware of where he is on the ice,” Tatar said.

Crosby has been much more ef­fec­tive than he was in his last best-on-best tour­na­ment ap­pear­ance. He had only one goal and two as­sists at the 2014 Sochi Games, where he won his sec­ond Olympic gold medal.

In the World Cup opener against the Czech Repub­lic alone, he pro­duced as many points with a goal and two as­sists in a sen­sa­tional stretch of the game that lasted less than 20 min­utes.

Crosby in­sisted he could not care less that he has al­ready tripled the num­ber of points he had in Rus­sia.

“I just want to win,” he said. “At the end of the day, that’s what you want to do. In Sochi, it was more about why weren’t we scor­ing, low-scor­ing games, and the teams we were play­ing we’re sup­posed to be win­ning by a cer­tain amount of goals.

“At the end of the day, we were win­ning games,” he said. “It’s al­ways nice to score, but we knew that we had to play a cer­tain way and some­times that meant not scor­ing five or six to win.”

Mike Bab­cock, Crosby’s coach at the pre­vi­ous two Olympics, put Crosby on a line with Bos­ton Bru­ins team­mates Brad Marc­hand and Pa­trice Berg­eron at the World Cup. The trio has com­bined for 22 points in five games.

“He got feel­ing it early,” Bab­cock said. “And, he’s feel­ing it and he thinks it’s go­ing in.”

Crosby has con­tin­ued the roll he started last sea­son when he won his sec­ond Stan­ley Cup and was named the post­sea­son MVP with 19 points in 24 games. He was the runner-up for the Hart Tro­phy, com­ing close to be­ing named NHL MVP for the third time in his ca­reer. And, he fin­ished a ca­reer­high sev­enth in vot­ing for the Selke Tro­phy that rec­og­nizes the league’s best de­fen­sive for­ward.

“He’s been ob­vi­ously play­ing re­ally well since last De­cem­ber,” said Zdeno Chara, a Team Europe de­fense­man who also plays for the Bru­ins. “He re­ally raised his game.”

Cana­dian and Los Angeles Kings de­fense­man Drew Doughty said Crosby is prob­a­bly play­ing bet­ter than he ever has.

“The three tour­na­ments I’ve had the op­por­tu­nity, I would say he’s play­ing un­be­liev­able,” Doughty said. “Things are work­ing for him now. He’s hot. Not that he didn’t play well at the other tour­na­ments, he just didn’t get his hot.”

NATHAN DENETTE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Canada’s Sid­ney Crosby gets en­tan­gled with Europe’s Leon Drai­saitl (29) along the boards dur­ing the sec­ond pe­riod of Game 1 of the World Cup of Hockey fi­nals Tues­day.

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