He was asked about it several times during the season. So were his coach, his teammates.

Now that he has had a little time to reflect, Penguins center Sidney Crosby figures that, yes, he probably did reach the ultra-elite level of play in 2013 that he showed in the first half of 2010-11, when he had 66 goals in 41 games before a concussion ended that season.

"I feel like I was able to get to that level for the most part," Crosby, 25, said Saturday night after he was rewarded for his play and his 56 points in 36 games with the Ted Lindsay Award, which goes to the NHL's most outstanding player as determined by a vote of players.

From January 2011 through the end of last season, Crosby played in just 28 games, including the playoffs. Then he sat out for more than three months with the rest of the league when a lockout postponed the start of this season to January.

"I missed a lot of time prior to this season, so to be able to get in that many games so quickly probably helped me, especially with the lockout," he said. "I was well rested."

He laughed slightly at the understatement in that last sentence.

"I was excited to get back out there and felt like I got to the level that I wanted to," said Crosby, who also won the award, then called the Lester B. Pearson Award, in 2007 and was a finalist three years ago.

He missed the last 12 games, or a quarter of the lockout-shortened 48-game schedule, after having surgery for a broken jaw. He got hit on the chin with a deflected puck March 30, knocking out several teeth and requiring the jaw to be stabilized with metal plates and screws.