Swing away: Swatting puck out of midair not uncommon or easy

Displacement: taking the disc out of the air is not uncommon or easy

Displace: taking the disc out of the air is not uncommon or easy

Associated Press
News May 2, 2018, 12:10 IST


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As with so many things, Sidney Crosby makes it look easy.

There was a time when he fired the puck off the post and hit the rebound in the net out of the air. Or, the moment he waited for the record to fall and hit him with his hand back to score a goal. Or, when he hit the puck for himself with his cane before touching it.

"I think they are just instincts," Crosby said.

Actually, it's a mix of natural talent, instincts, conscience, time, patience and hand-eye coordination. Crosby's Pittsburgh teammates are surprised every time he does, and they should be.

"It's just a reaction," said Penguins' end, Conor Sheary. "When you see the record in the air, you try to hit, it's better than many other guys, and I do not know what that is."

Flapping a piece of frozen gum 3 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick with a 2 to 3 inch wide cane blade is not an easy task. Doing it at full speed in an NHL playoff game certainly increases the degree of difficulty. However, several goals have already been scored or saved in this postseason with a player able to connect his club with a puck in the air at the perfect moment.

As recently as Tuesday night, the end of the capitals Alex Ovechkin took out the disc from the Ventile publication in the Crosby form for the winner of the game to beat the penguins.

"I came to the post office and it's good that I did not raise my arms," ​​Ovechkin said. "I finished the play and I was lucky."

Teams do not have exercises for this kind of thing, but hockey players always play with the puck, so familiarity with the stick and the puck takes root at an early age. Playing baseball and other sports that grow can not hurt. Washington Capitals forward Brett Connolly, who scored a baseball-style goal with Boston in 2015, believes that players learn the skill and try to use it when they can.

"His athleticism takes over at that point," Connolly said. "Once your hand is at a high level, you can follow the record, I think that as hockey players we are always watching, we are very fast, our eyes are everywhere and we are looking at the record. do it and sometimes it works. "

Toronto's Connor Brown scored on goal in Game 5 of the first round when the puck bounced off a defender's staff and hit before goalkeeper Tuukka Rask knew where he was. Columbus goalkeeper Sergei Bobrovsky did not know where the record was when captain Nick Foligno knocked him down to avoid a goal in the first round against Washington, a product of years of work.

"That was really my boy, so the least I could do was hit him," Foligno said. "Honestly, I practice it so much playing with the record that you get used to playing so many years, obviously, a bit of luck to make sure you get it out and not hit anywhere else"

To no one's surprise, Crosby's career is full of similar highlights. He hit a home run once during batting practice at PNC Park a few years ago.

On ice, Crosby does not have to hit the record as hard as Aaron Judge hits a baseball or as precisely as Roger Federer hits a tennis ball, but Penguins end Bryan Rust correctly points out: "They're also looking for it to be in the air, our sport, the disc should not be in the air. "

Crosby and others solve it anyway. 19659020] "There are many things you should know, and you need records to be in those areas to do it," Crosby said. "Sometimes you can spend some time where you do not get an album that's right there for you, I've been close to the network when the discs have been able to leave them there for me, there's a lot of different things, but I think it's inside and out of the network trying to expect different things and be prepared for that. "

Playing peewee baseball explains some of this to Crosby, a two-season and playoff MVP who works on redirecting and hitting records so often in practice has become a routine to score.

Not so much for others, like Bruins forward Sean Kuraly, who played the waiting game during Game 1 of the Boston series against Toronto and hit the puck in as it fell on Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen .

"You have to wait for the disc to come down," said impatient Kuraly. "I'm a terrible baseball player, it has nothing to do with baseball."

Goalkeepers with thicker swords also come into action. Andersen stole Rick Nash with a sure goal in the first round of Game 6, and Matt Murray of Pittsburgh extended his stick to stop Ovechkin in Game 2 of the Penguins-Capitals series.

Archers are expected to keep the record by any means necessary.

Mark a goal hitting the disc? Well, that's just fun.

"It's a creative game, you have to mix it and be creative," Connolly said. "To score, you have to try to do something different sometimes to get one."


AP sports writers Jimmy Golen in Boston and Will Graves in Pittsburgh contributed.


Follow Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno


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