Boulton: Crosby the league’s top player

Before we get going, Sidney Crosby is on another planet. We all know it. Haters know it too, even if some of them don’t know they know it. He does so many amazing things on a regular basis that I even mentioned last year about the potential to take him for granted.

Crosby imploded even more minds last night when he scored the overtime winner using a baseball swing to bat the puck from the slot into the net. Everyone, everyone, is talking about it.

Keeping my high opinion of him in mind, know how serious I must be to say the overtime goal wasn’t as earth shattering as people are making it out to be.

I’m not taking anything away from it. To have that kind of hand-eye coordination even when you only get lucky is pretty spectacular. The Penguins captain has done this enough in his career and especially over the last two years to prove this isn’t luck at all. It’s an intentional move in his ridiculous catalogue.

But this particular goal is more a culmination of several common skills and hockey sense than a miracle on ice.

Crosby picks up the puck and looks off the defenceman. He stick handles very quickly to mask when he’s going to shoot, and then takes his patent quick release rocket. Instead of peeling off to the corner, he moves himself into dangerous space to the spot the puck is most likely to end up. He tracks it, finds it, and puts in the net using the only available method. Game over.

Consistently having the hunger to track the puck every waking second puts him into a higher category of sniper and creator of scoring chances. Having the ability to pivot heel to heel and hold it for as long as he needs under full balance and control puts him as one of the very hardest players to get the puck from. Having the coordination to bat the puck cleanly out of the air and direct it exactly where he wants it to go makes him one of the top scoring threats around. It’s a terrific play by the best in the game.

It’s also something I’d expect a good chunk of players to do if they’d been in the same situation and been fortunate enough to have the puck bounce back out to them they way it did here.

I’m surprised the reaction to the double tap ping pong backhander goal Crosby scored against Montreal just a few short games ago wasn’t like this. That one was worth it.

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