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The Great One: Crosby ‘just took his play to another level’

Wayne Gretzky explains to Dan Patrick what the pressure of expectations mean for both Sidney Crosby and LeBron James, both widely considered to be the best players in their respective sports.

Sidney Crosby isn’t leading the NHL in points this post-season. In fact, he’s gone the last two games -- both in San Jose, where the Sharks may have been able to get the match-up they wanted -- without a point.

Nonetheless, the Penguins have surged ahead to within one win of the Stanley Cup, and Crosby, with 17 points in 22 playoff games this year, has been a catalyst for their drive.

His play in this series, and throughout the post-season, has garnered plenty of attention, from the opposition to the media. At times, he’s been faced with criticism, particularly his leadership during the conference final, and accused of cheating in faceoffs -- that has quickly went away -- but his supporters, like Pittsburgh’s head coach Mike Sullivan, have also let their opinions be heard.

Count Wayne Gretzky among the supporters Crosby has based on his play late in the regular season and into the playoffs.

“Personally I don’t worry if a guy goes two or three games without a goal – it’s how he’s performing and how he’s playing to help his team be successful and he’s definitely done that,” Gretzky told Sportsnet.

“He’s been, I think, terrific. (Chicago Blackhawks winger) Patrick Kane had one of those special years and he’s definitely deserving of all the accolades that he’s getting, but I also felt that the last 40 games (of the regular season) Crosby was again the best player in the NHL.

“He just took his play to another level.”

Gretzky, speaking separately on the Dan Patrick Show, also addressed the pressure Crosby faces to win a championship and if there are any parallels between that pressure and what LeBron James faces in the NBA.