CRANBERRY — Sidney Crosby has experienced a lot since he joined the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005.
He’s known the unbridled joy of winning three Stanley Cups, the exasperation of losing five consecutive playoff series and just about everything in between.
Nonetheless, Crosby acknowledged after the Penguins’ practice Sunday at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex that he hasn’t been though many stretches as frustrating as the 0-6-1 slump his team will take into its game at Washington Wednesday.
“There’s not one that comes to mind,” he said. “It’s up there, for sure.”
Although the Penguins’ slide has more than a few confounding aspects, one of the most striking is that it has come in the immediate wake of a 4-0-1 start to the season. That means they went from accomplishing things almost at will during the first week-plus of the season to picking up one meager point in seven games with virtually no transition.
“It shows you how tough the league is, and how difficult it is to win,” Crosby said. “You look at some of those (first five) games … there are probably different points in those games where the game could have turned either way, and we found a way to tip it in our favor. We haven’t found a way to be able to do that, fully, through this (current) stretch.
“The seven games, there’s probably two or three where you look at them as, we deserved to lose those ones. The other ones, you look at them, we did everything but win them. That’s tough, when you put yourself in those positions to win and you don’t find a way to close it out.”
Indeed, the Pittsburgh Penguins have been ahead during the third period in two of their past three games, and tied in the other. They lost two of those in regulation, the other in overtime.
Crosby realizes, of course, that there is not a quota of adversity — be it in the form of injuries or soul-crushing losses or whatever — that each team must fill, after which it is exempt from tough luck until the meter resets for the following season.
Nonetheless, he believes that hitting a tough patch in autumn as not as problematic as having it happen a few months later could be.
“When it’s early in the year like this, it’s something you look at maybe a little bit differently, just because everybody can look at it as an opportunity,” Crosby said. “When you deal with adversity early in the season, it’s one of those things you’re looking at (as), and you’re thinking, ‘Well, it’s better to go through this now than in February.’
“It’s not something you want to go through, and obviously, seven games is not what I’m talking about, but I’m just talking about adversity in general. You have to find a way to get through it.”
Crosby did not cite specific examples of offensive opportunities that were squandered or defensive assignments that were missed, such as the one that made Brandon Tanev’s game-winning goal in Seattle’s 3-2 victory Saturday possible, during the slump, but noted that playing an error -free game is not a realistic objective.
The goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins, he suggested, is to avoid them at junctures where the outcome of a game is being decided. And to force the opposition into making some, instead.
“You’re going to make mistakes,” Sidney Crosby said. “Mistakes are going to happen in hockey games. It’s the timing of them. There are a lot of factors. We have to keep working hard and earn our bounces. And earn wins, somehow.”