Entering his first game of the 2011-2012 season, without having played since January 5th, Sidney Crosby notched a four point night with two goals and two assists.

Business as usual, Crosby came to the rink and took the game over right from his first shift. Winning a face-off, and then several minutes later cutting past the Islander defense and scoring on a beautiful partial-break backhand goal. With his performance Crosby was able to ignite the hometown crowd and fans across Canada. This brings to question, How can an athlete be so calm in such an exhilarating moment as he finally gets to re-enter into the sport he loves?  With 18,571 fans in attendance to pack the arena to capacity, Crosby rose to the occasion as if it was just another game. This brings to discussion that topic of maintaining EMOTIONAL CONTROL. When asked in a post-game interview about his ability to perform when the stage is the biggest (Olympics, Stanley Cup) Crosby proclaimed, "this one was the easiest as this was something I was waiting for, for a long time." The excitement is always a factor that comes into play when jumping onto the ice for a "big game", but at the same time, finding your optimal level of performance comes with maintaining balance. With strong balance of emotional control one can be able to perform at the their best. On game day one's routine of how they prepare comes into play in order to find that balance of settling the mind. All hockey games are the exact same game in terms of how the game is played each time. Stepping on the ice for one game compared to the next should be no different. The factor of winning or loosing might have a strong presence on the end result of the game, but in terms of how you look at preparing, there should be no difference from one game to the next. Some describe this theory as "staying between the boards", as in a game what happens between the boards is all that matters. Athletes have the odd superstition or ritual that they may perform before or during a game. These little quarks may not change "the game" but they may help the athlete stay focused and have that feeling of routine and that aspect of staying in the moment. As a goaltender, your routine should stay fairly the same on a day to day bases. There shouldn't be a game where you go out of your way to warm-up more then the last or switch to a new brand of stick suddenly that day. How one prepares daily, and one consistently create that feeling of ease helps an athlete be in the moment. That in the moment feeling happens as the game goes on. As Crosby states for himself in his return, "As the game went on I felt better and better". Moving through a game minute by minute helps an athlete stay focused on the task at hand for that shift, rather than having a focus on the games end result. Many goaltenders look at finding opportunities within a game to excite themselves to compete. For example, looking at every penalty kill presents an opportunity for a goaltender to help gain momentum for his team by calming the play and killing the opposing teams fire. Turning a possibly negative situation into a positive. Again, this balancing of low and high emotions is key to maintain during the game. Looking at last nights game with Crosby's return, truly this was just another game for him as he was able to return and play the game he loves, and not skip a beat to go to work in just another game.