The fear is gone. The doubt too for that matter. Ditto the hesitation.
A year into his comeback from the concussion-like symptoms that nearly derailed Sidney Crosby's career, the Pittsburgh Penguins superstar is back atop the NHL scoring race thanks to his unparalleled mix of artistry, speed and grit.
It wasn't the avalanche of points - 50 and counting heading into Friday's game against the New York Islanders - that let Crosby's teammates know their captain was back at the top of his considerable powers. No, the proof lay in the tight places around the net where Crosby makes his living better than anyone else.
''To play down low in the defensive zone against him is a nightmare,'' Penguins forward Craig Adams said. ''It's a long way back, but I can't imagine a guy playing better than he is right now. You can't get the puck from him.''
Perhaps because Crosby doesn't have to worry about getting knocked around so much anymore. Don't get him wrong, the game has never been faster. The...