Sidney Crosby looked Torey Krug in the eye and must have thought, "I want this more, and I'm going to prove it."
I've photographed a few stiff arms this year, but most of them have been on the gridiron. And it feels like most of the photos illustrating pure determination have featured Steelers tight end Vance McDonald punishing with a stiff arm, dragging a defender or ... or simply running one over.
Tonight, however, I shot my first stiff arm in a hockey game when Crosby handled Krug and sent him to the ice with his left arm. With one arm on the stick, Crosby stuck his "free" hand out and punished Krug, who certainly looked defeated going down.
The beauty of what Crosby did, though, wasn't in the execution of the stiff arm itself. It was the glance he gave Krug just before it, and it was Krug refusing to get back into the play just after it that really sold the moment for me.
Let's take a look at the television replay angle and then walk through my sequence of photographs:
Of all the Penguins' struggles this season, the effort of the captain has hardly been the issue. And once again, Crosby showed that he can outwork anyone and simply want it more than the opponent. It's been mentioned twice now, but here is the moment I knew the puck was Crosby's:
Krug committed to him too high, chose to turn too late, and Crosby knew it and knew he could exploit it.
Then came the moment that sparked this and is an image you've already seen at the very top of the page:
I left the rest of Crosby's stick off of this image to emphasize the stiff arm when I posted it to the live file, and I've done the same here for the same reason. Krug's face says everything that needs to be said about the force of it.
Here are the frames I got of the stiff arm sequence. I wish there was one or two more at the front end of it, but this is what was seen through my lens during the moment:
One hand on the stick. The other in Krug's face. Crosby's eyes never leave the puck, but he knows where Krug is and what he has to do to get the job done and get the free hand back to the stick in time to make a pass.
Arguably the most impressive aspect to this photo sequence isn't the stiff arm, but Crosby's edge control that allows him to do everything he does — this time being no exception. Watch Crosby's left skate. He uses the inside edge of that blade to cut hard and help create the force that sends Krug to the ice.
You can see the small spray of ice, not from Krug's sliding foot but from Crosby's skate as it digs in. His right leg pulls up behind him and over Krug's leg as Crosby sort of hops away to spring a two-on-one with Zach Aston-Reese driving toward an empty cage.
Crosby then put on the backhand hat to make a special sauce delivery to Aston-Reese, perfectly sending the puck over the blade of David Krejci and into space for No. 46 to net his second:
From the overhead television angle, you can't notice the saucer nature of the pass and it looks like the puck is threaded under the stick of Krejci toward Aston-Reese.
If you go up and watch the video again, it's even more impressive knowing he placed the puck just over the outstretched Bauer blade to lead to the goal. Especially with the quick flick of the wrist Crosby does it with.
So, just to recap: Pure determination, stiff arm, edge control, beautiful backhand.
The last element to look at from this sequence is none other than Aston-Reese's redirection of Crosby's saucer pass. It's not the redirection itself, actually. Not to discredit Aston-Reese, but it's a goal a lot of beer leaguers would have had a hard time missing on.
Look past Aston-Reese, though ... way back on the right where Krug still remained. His head turned toward center ice. His knee on the ground. Defeated like so many others, all at the hands of Sidney Crosby. Although Krug literally was defeated by the hand of Sidney Crosby:
MATT SUNDAY GALLERY
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