VOORHEES, N.J. — There’s no way around it: If you can’t stop Sidney Crosby, you’re not going to stop the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Crosby lit up the Flyers for his third career playoff hat trick (tying Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux) in the Pens’ 7-0 rout of the Flyers in Game 1, then came back with a goal and three assists in a 5-1 win in Game 3 on Sunday.
The question is: How do you put the brakes on this guy (who, by the way, torches just about every team in the NHL).
In his illustrious career, Crosby has scored more goals (38) against the Flyers (in regular-season action) than any other NHL team.
“Just don’t give him time and space,’’ defenseman Ivan Provorov said after Tuesday’s practice at the Skate Zone. “The numbers are what they are.
“It’s not like he’s in our head. We just have to take care of the puck. If we do that, we’ll be fine.’’
It’s difficult to be physical with Crosby because, like Wayne Gretzky and other greats of that ilk, he’s so fast and so shifty that it’s difficult to hit such a moving target.
“Have good angles,’’ Provorov suggested. “Like I said, make sure we do a good job of taking care of the puck when he’s out there.’’
Added Jake Voracek: “We want to play on the offensive side of the puck, especially against that Crosby line (which has Bryan Rust on right wing and Jake Guentzel on left). Keep them as far away from our net as possible.’’
Officially, Crosby has four goals, three assists for seven points with a plus-6. Pretty intimidating.
Voracek has no real solution to the Crosby problem.
“That’s a really good question,’’ Voracek said when asked about the situation. “Don’t give him the puck. If he doesn’t have the puck, he can’t score.
“I guess that’s the best defense. But that’s hard to do sometime because he’s so dominant, so good. He’s always in the right spot, he doesn’t have to have the puck very often to be dangerous. Especially in the defensive zone. So we have to make sure we don’t make mistakes against him.’’
The task could be that much more difficult if Sean Couturier, who was injured in practice on Tuesday, is unable to play.
The Flyers are aware of just how much this game means and can’t afford a letdown.
Less than 20 NHL teams in 100 years of playoff action have come back from 3-1 deficits. The Flyers did it in their remarkable recovery from a 3-0 deficit against Boston in 2010 but those sorts of comebacks usually happen about once in a generation.