Sidney Crosby: The Time is Now for the Pens’ Leader to Lead


The Pittsburgh Penguins kicked off the second half of their 2014-15 campaign with a convincing win against the Winnipeg Jets last night, though they were forced to do so without their two marquee stars – Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

The latter of the two, who has arguably been Pittsburgh’s MVP this season, is currently sidelined with a lower-body injury and, according to General Manager Jim Rutherford, won’t be ready to return for a little while.

Pittsburgh did dodge a bullet in the case of their captain, however, as Sidney Crosby doesn’t look to be in line to miss much time after receiving an injection to treat a lower-body injury of his own over the weekend.

With the second half of the season under way, and Pittsburgh’s first-half MVP on the shelf, the time is now for Crosby to raise his game and regain his place atop the NHL ranks.

The two-time scoring leader and league-MVP has been having a fine season by any other players’ standards, posting 51 points through 43 games thus far. In fact, it’s somewhat unfair to judge a player with such strong numbers as anything but spectacular.

But there just seems to be something missing.

Despite the production, there hasn’t been the same dominating level of play that fans came to expect over the first nine seasons of Crosby’s career.

Perhaps part of the problem is that, despite putting together a fairly healthy season (besides the occasional bout with the mumps), Crosby has simply not looked like the league’s best thus far. For now those accolades rest with players like Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek and Dallas’ Tyler Seguin.

He hasn’t even been the unequivocal best on his own team, as Evgeni Malkin has showcased a new-found level of consistency throughout the 2014-15 campaign to help carry a fair amount of the Pens’ load as well.

While the captain’s lofty numbers are certainly nothing to dismiss (he ranks 2nd in the league with 36 assists), the fact remains that Crosby’s team has repeatedly come up short in big games against teams they need to beat – most notably within their own division – and Crosby’s lacklustre performance during said games has surely played a part.

Pittsburgh’s recent stretch of games serves as a perfect example of this as the team’s last four contests heading into the All-Star break consisted of four straight losses to the Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, and New York Islanders – all teams the Pens will need to get a handle on if they have any hope of winning a championship in 2015.

While Crosby posted 3 goals over the first two of those games, he posted goose eggs more recently against Chicago and Philly as the team continued to fall behind.

The Pens’ problems certainly run deeper than #87, but just as they always have, Pittsburgh’s championship hopes will rise and fall with the performance of their legendary captain.

The good news for Penguins fans is that Crosby seems to be getting back on track in terms of reaching this dominant level.

His production seems to be ramping up, especially in the goal-scoring department, and he’s playing alongside one of the most talented groups of wingers that he’s seen in years.

Now that he’s past the offensive woes, and the lower-body injury that has been apparently hampering him, the second half of the season presents Crosby with the perfect opportunity to rise back to his natural place above the rest.

It isn’t simply about statistics. The problem does not lie in point totals or near-misses.

What Crosby has been lacking is the sense of indomitable determination that leaves his teammates and fans thinking he cannot be stopped. When his team seems down and out and only seconds remain on the clock, you want to feel like if Sidney Crosby steps on the ice, the Pens are back in it. He’ll get it done. He’ll find a way.

This is what great captains do. This is what champions do.

Sidney Crosby is that player – we’ve seen it countless times throughout his career. Now he must find that drive, that elite level, and lead this team as he was meant to.