Sidney Crosby (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images
Logan Couture was critical of Sidney Crosby’s faceoff technique, saying Crosby cheats on draws but doesn’t get thrown out “probably because of who he is.” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan fired back, deeming complaints about Crosby’s faceoff tactics not “worthy of a response.”
The Sharks didn’t choose to point out any potential interference, goaltender or otherwise, but rather took aim at Crosby’s faceoff prowess, which both Logan Couture and Marc-Edouard Vlasic say comes from him cheating on draws.
Crosby has been a terror in the faceoff circle throughout the Stanley Cup final, winning 65 percent of his faceoffs and only dropping one of seven draws he’s taken with the Penguins on the power play. But after Crosby’s overtime faceoff victory, which started a set-play that turned in the game-winning goal, Couture and Vlasic cried foul.
Couture said Crosby has been timing the linesmen and that they haven’t caught on. "He gets away with it; he's Sidney Crosby," Couture said, via NHL.com. "He times them and they don't kick him out for some reason, probably because of who he is.”
Crosby hasn’t had his chance to respond -- that will likely come ahead of Game 3 -- but Penguins coach Mike Sullivan let it be known that he has no time for hearing complaints from Couture and Vlasic, who backed up Couture saying Crosby “maybe should have been” booted from the circle ahead of the faceoff preceding Sheary’s goal.
"All centers, when they're taking faceoffs, they're trying to get an edge,” Sullivan said, via NHL.com. “That's just the reality of it. They're doing the same thing that our guys are doing…So, Sid's not doing anything that their guys aren't doing. Quite honestly, it really isn't worthy of a response.”
Calling out Crosby’s faceoff technique may just be the Sharks' ploy to have the linesmen be more critical of both sides when it comes to faceoffs, even if that comes at the risk of seeing a few San Jose pivots tossed from the circle.
Through the first two games of the series, the Penguins hold a 73-62 edge in faceoff victories. There isn’t a single Shark center who has taken more than 20 draws that boasts a positive faceoff percentage. Couture is the closest to breaking even at an even 50 percent. After Couture, Joe Pavelski (47.1 percent) and Chris Tierney (44.4) have the next-best success rates of those who have taken 20-plus faceoffs for San Jose. Joel Ward, who lost the draw ahead of Sheary’s goal, has only won three of his 10 faceoffs in the series.
While advanced statistics have shown faceoffs don’t greatly impact overall possession numbers, they can be game-changing when a successful faceoff play generates a scoring chance. In Crosby’s case, that chance was the game-decider. For that reason alone, it sounds like the Sharks want to make sure the linesmen are as strict as possible moving forward.