Published: Friday, November 17, 2006
Armstrong trying to get back form of last year
The second-year Penguin has not scored a goal in the first 16 games.
PITTSBURGH (AP) Colby Armstrong, who scored 16 goals and had 40 points in only 47 games as a rookie last season, is in a scoring drought. In 16 games this season, he's had no goals and six assists, but the team still sees a role for him.
"I've been pretty hard on myself here lately," Armstrong said. "I just try to have a little sense of humor about it, come to the rink with enthusiasm and just try to have fun. I'm trying to just play hockey and contribute every night somehow."
Armstrong is a former first-round draft pick of the club, the second of the last seven in a row that are currently with Pittsburgh. But the 21st overall pick in the 2001 draft doesn't come with nearly the pedigree or expectations of the other forwards taken over that time span: Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal each of whom was taken in the top two picks of the last three drafts.
Still, Armstrong, who turns 24 on Thanksgiving, displayed enough of an offensive touch playing on a line with Crosby last year that coach Michel Therrien has kept Armstrong on that unit for much of this season.
Still has role on team
"I know he's put a lot of pressure on himself lately for not being able to perform offensively like he wishes because he's playing with Sidney Crosby, and most of the time when you play with a guy like that, you should get some numbers," Therrien said. "But for us, he's not on the power play; he's killing penalties and doing a lot of good things on the ice. He's physical and he's doing well defensively. He's got a role on our team."
Armstrong is third on the team among forwards in average ice time (18:21) has an even plus/minus rating and is second among Pittsburgh forwards in penalty minutes. His 24 shots rank seventh on the team the most of any Pittsburgh player without a goal.
His shooting percentage is the worst of any Penguin.
"I've been getting pucks to the net, doing little things, killing penalties," Armstrong said.
"That's what I can focus on to help this team and hopefully things will come around and pucks will start going in. I'm trying to go to the net a little more. ... I think things will start bouncing in."
Clicks with Crosby
Crosby is one of Armstrong's best friends on the team, and it was clear the two clicked quickly after being put on a line together. Crosby has long spoken of how he likes the space Armstrong creates for him on the ice and said that Armstrong still is getting him the puck at the right times.
"One of these days, he's going to catch a break, and it's going to go in. And hopefully he will just be able to roll from there," Crosby said.
Armstrong had stints on the No. 2 line in recent games, but played most of Monday's 3-2 win over Philadelphia on the top line. He practiced on a line with Crosby and Mark Recchi Thursday.
"We want him to score some goals for us and get some confidence because he's such a great kid," Therrien said.
"He works hard and always has a good attitude, and you always want those types of guys to succeed. But from a coaching standpoint, you don't want to put too much pressure on him because he's put enough pressure on himself."
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