Like he does with so many things Authentic Isaiah Oliver Jersey , Sidney Crosby makes it look easy.
There was the time he shot the puck off the post and swatted the rebound into the net out of midair. Or, the time he waited for the puck to drop and backhanded it in for a goal. Or, when knocked the puck up to himself with his stick before tapping it in.
”I think it’s just instincts,” Crosby said.
It’s actually a mix of natural talent, instincts, awareness, timing, patience and hand-eye coordination. Crosby’s Pittsburgh teammates are still amazed every time he does it – and they should be.
”It’s just a reactionary thing,” Penguins winger Conor Sheary said. ”When you see the puck go in the air, you just try to bat it. He’s better at it than a lot of other guys, and I don’t know what that is.”
Batting a fluttering piece of frozen rubber 3 inches in diameter and 1-inch thick with a stick blade 2 to 3 inches wide is no simple task. Doing it at full speed in an NHL playoff game certainly raises the degree of difficulty. Yet a handful of goals have been scored or saved already this postseason with a player somehow able to connecting their stick with an airborne puck at the perfect time.
As recently as Tuesday night, Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin batted the puck out of the air off the post in Crosby-esque fashion for the game-winner to beat the Penguins.
”I hit the post and it’s a good thing I didn’t raise my arms up,” Ovechkin said. ”I finished up the play and got lucky.”
Teams don’t have drills for this kind of thing, but hockey players are always noodling with the puck, so the familiarity with both stick and puck becomes ingrained at an early age. Playing baseball and other sports growing up can’t hurt. Washington Capitals forward Brett Connolly, who scored a baseball-style goal with Boston in 2015, thinks players learn the skill and try to use it when they can.
”Your athleticism kind of takes over at that point,” Connolly said. ”Once your hand-eye is at a high level, you kind of track the puck. I think as hockey players we’re always looking around, we’re so quick, our eyes are all over the place and we’re staring at the puck. You kind of just take a chance at it and sometimes it works out.”
It worked out for Toronto’s Connor Brown on his goal in Game 5 of the first round when the puck bounced off a defenseman’s stick and he knocked it in before goaltender Tuukka Rask knew where it was. Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky didn’t know where the puck was when captain Nick Foligno whacked it out of the air to prevent a goal during the first round against Washington, either Authentic Customized Panthers Jerseys , a product of years of work.
”That was actually my guy, so the least I could do was bat it out,” Foligno said. ”Honestly, I practice it so much with playing around with the puck that you just get used to it playing so many years. Obviously, a little bit of luck to make sure you get it out and not hit somewhere else.”
To the surprise of no one, Crosby’s career is full of similar highlights. He once slugged a home run during batting practice at PNC Park some years ago.
On the ice, Crosby doesn’t have to hit the puck as hard as Aaron Judge hits a baseball or as precisely as Roger Federer hits a tennis ball, but Penguins winger Bryan Rust correctly points out: ”They’re also looking for it to be in the air. Our sport, the puck’s not supposed to be in the air.”
Crosby and others figure it out anyway.
”There’s a lot of things you’ve got to be aware of, and you need pucks to be in those areas to do it,” Crosby said. ”Sometimes you can go a period of time where you don’t get a puck that sits right there for you. I’ve been around the net when pucks have been able to kind of just lay there for me. There’s a lot of different factors, but I think just being in and around the net trying to expect different things and being ready for it.”
Playing peewee baseball explains some of it for Crosby, a two-time season and playoff MVP who works on redirecting and bating pucks so often in practice it has become a routine way for him to score.
Not so much for others, like Bruins forward Sean Kuraly, who played the waiting game during Game 1 of Boston’s series against Toronto and batted the puck in while falling over Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen.
”You have to wait for the puck to come down,” the otherwise-impatient Kuraly said. ”I’m a terrible baseball player. It has nothing to do with baseball.”
Goalies with thicker blades on their sticks get into the act, too. Andersen robbed Rick Nash on a sure-fire goal in the first round in Game 6, and Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray extended his stick to stop Ovechkin in Game 2 of the Penguins-Capitals series.
Goaltenders are counted on to keep the puck out by any means necessary.
Scoring a goal by batting the puck in? Well, that’s just fun.
”It’s a creative game. You’ve got to mix it up and be creative,” Connolly said. ”To score, you’ve got to try and do something different sometimes to get one.”
AP Sports Writers Jimmy Golen in Boston and Will Graves in Pittsburgh contributed.
Head coaching changes get the most attention, and new guys normally decide who their coordinators will be.
For 2018 Cheap Josey Jewell Jersey , most offensive coordinator alterations came from incumbent coaches.
Some former coordinators moved up: Matt Nagy from Kansas City to Chicago, Pat Shurmur from Minnesota to the New York Giants. Some OCs were canned: Pittsburgh's Todd Haley, who landed in Cleveland; Mike Shula, going from the Panthers to the Giants. Others are returning to familiar ground: Joe Philbin in Green Bay, Greg Olson in Oakland.
Many simply got promoted.
Here are six intriguing new offensive coordinators:
Todd Haley, Cleveland 鈥?A former head coach with the Chiefs who spent the past six seasons in a love/hate relationship with Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, Haley faces a whole new set of challenges with the Browns.
Sure, he and Roethlisberger often quarreled, but they also won lots of games with a potent, dynamic attack. If you have a short memory, let us fill you in: Cleveland has won a single game, in total, over the past two seasons. Its offense has ranged from anemic to putrid.
So Haley steps in with the charge of grooming (or pushing rapidly) the first overall draft pick, Baker Mayfield, as the starting quarterback. The head man in Cleveland, Hue Jackson, also has a background on offense and some ideas of his own on how to move the ball. Of course, Jackson also has that 1-31 record.
"That is what appealed to me 鈥?the challenge and the people I was going to be working alongside of," Haley said when hired.
Best of luck, Todd.
Norv Turner, Carolina 鈥?One of the most successful OCs in NFL history 鈥?not so much as a head coach, with a 114-122-1 record 鈥?Turner tries to re-establish Cam Newton as an elite passer. Newton remains a dangerous runner and creator Clive Walford Jersey Elite , but he's never developed the fundamentals to be a true pocket passer, and as he gets later into his career, the 2015 league MVP needs those basics in his repertoire.
Turner has been an effective QB whisperer for decades, going back to helping Troy Aikman become a Hall of Famer. Turner has a strong relationship with Panthers coach Ron Rivera, and will get lots of leeway in running the offense, particularly in resurrecting the deep passing game.
"I think Cam gets that Norv is here to help," Rivera said.
John DeFilippo, Minnesota 鈥?DeFilippo moves from the Eagles, where he masterfully helped Carson Wentz reach prominence, then was of immeasurable aid for Nick Foles in the Super Bowl run. DeFilippo was handed an expensive bauble, too.
The Vikings signed Kirk Cousins to the largest guaranteed contract in NFL history after discarding their three quarterbacks of 2018, including Case Keenum, who helped Minnesota reach the conference title game. With short-term 2018 sensation Dalvin Cook returning to the backfield, a solid and deep receiving group and a strong line, expectations in the Twin Cities are for the Vikes to take that next huge step.
"He's been a great communicator, and I love his passion for the game," Cousins said of DeFilippo.
Joe Philbin, Green Bay 鈥?From 2007-11, with the transition from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers a part of it, Philbin was the Packers OC. The team's success, including a Super Bowl title, got him the head job in Miami Zack Martin Jersey Elite , where he went 24-28.
Following two seasons working in Indianapolis with the offensive line, Philbin Part 2 begins on the tundra.
Rodgers has been somewhat vocal about changes in Green Bay that didn't quite meet his approval. So the symbiosis between A-Rod and Philbin will be critical.
"Change can be really good ... any time you're in a situation where you've had the same type of things going on for a number of years, it's nice to change it up in some positions, yeah," Rodgers said.
Matt LaFleur, Tennessee 鈥?LaFleur rapidly has gone from QB coach in Atlanta 鈥?Matt Ryan had his MVP season with LaFleur on hand two years ago 鈥?to overseeing the Rams' offensive turnaround. Having such success with Jared Goff and Todd Gurley in LA, he heads to Nashville, where the passing game has been dormant.
If Marcus Mariota is to become a franchise quarterback, it must happen soon. LaFleur doesn't have a lot to work with in Music City, but he didn't seem to in SoCal either. And unlike with the Rams, where coach Sean McVay called many plays, the offense is LaFleur's baby now.
"This is something when you get into the coaching profession, you're always looking for the next step," LaFleur said.
Randy Fichtner, Pittsburgh 鈥?Roethlisberger should have a more peaceful co-existence with Fichtner, and the offensive tempo figures to speed up.
This should be the best attack in the AFC, anchored by RB Le'Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown. Fichtner needs to ensure it is close to the top given the question marks on defense.
"He knows what we do well," Brown said. "He knows some things we can work on and some things that (we can do) better. But we're in great hands with him."