Last night Pittsburgh Tribune columnist Rob Rossi (Found Here) came out with a story where he details what he believes is the reason why Sidney Crosby is statistically slumping this season. However, there are quite a few holes in his argument and he makes some false claims.
Let’s dive in and look at what is correct about Rossi’s column and what he missed the boat on.
Starting the article Rossi writes that Sidney Crosby is not injured, which, from all reports is correct. He looks healthy every night and there have been times this season that Sidney Crosby has looked more explosive than ever. This season has undoubtedly been one of his streakiest in the league as Rossi cites that Sidney Crosby has been held without a point in 24 games this season.
Additionally, Rossi correctly points out that Sidney Crosby has been wearing the Black and Gold sweater for much longer than many of us realize. He cites that Sidney Crosby entered the league at the age of 18 and has been playing ever since, at age 27 he is not longer “Sid the Kid.” However, the one thing Rossi incorrectly claims is that Crosby has been playing for about 12 seasons when you count playoff games.
Realistically, Sidney Crosby has had to prepare for 12 seasons, but preparing and actually playing are two entirely different animals. When you actually add up the number of games played (counting postseason), Sidney Crosby is mathematically in the middle of his 8th season (8.55 seasons). So yes, Sidney Crosby has been playing in the league for quite some time and even 8 seasons show he is no longer a kid, but he grossly overestimates time played.
It is no secret that new head coach Mike Johnston has asked Sidney Crosby to be more responsible and play much more a two-way style of hockey. Sidney Crosby has relished the opportunity and has shown the entire league he is much more than just a point producer.
For a couple of years now people have been debating whether Crosby or Jonathan Toews is the best player in the league. Crosby has always had the statistical advantage but not the defensive play that Toews has. Well this season, Crosby still has the statistical advantage as the Blackhawks’ Captain has played in 60 games and has produced 48 points (17 G – 31 A). That stat line is not unlike Crosby’s 58 games played and 61 points produced (19 G – 42 A). Yes a similar stat line is not enough to quell doubters, but after watching Crosby’s play evolve I can say for certain he has played much more like Toews this season than his old 100+ point self.
Something else that many people (including Rossi) have failed to account for is Sidney Crosby’s TOI. Well, I did and right now Sidney Crosby is on pace for his lowest TOI in a season where he played close to 82 games.
The biggest drop off in TOI per game has been on the powerplay and even strength play. Simply put, Sidney Crosby is not on the ice as much as he is used to and the lack of powerplay minutes has put a serious damper on his point production. Despite his lower TOI per game, Sidney Crosby is still shooting at around the same rate as previous seasons.
My biggest issue with Rob Rossi’s article is that he claims the Pittsburgh Penguins, this season, are the weakest they have been in years. However, any Penguins fan could tell you this is anything but the truth. We all know the Penguins have been a top heavy team ever since our beloved Jordan Staal (who might be returning) was traded away for Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumoulin and the pick that brought Derrick Pouliot to Pittsburgh. This trade was made three seasons ago and Sidney Crosby has had two and half (this season) seasons playing with Sutter.Feb 12, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes forward Jordan Staal (11) looks on during the game gainst the Anaheim Ducks at PNC Arena. The Anaheim Ducks defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Yes Brandon Sutter is a horrid, over paid and ineffective third line center but Sidney Crosby has produced with him on the team. This is shown by his 1.5 PPG in the lockout shortened 2012-2013 season and 1.3 PPG during last season. Anyone who would argue that the 2014-2015 Penguins are a worse team than prior years clearly have not been watching.
Additions like David Perron, Patric Hornqvist, Blake Comeau, Christian Ehrhoff, Thomas Greiss, Derrick Pouliot and even Steve Downie (yes he takes bad penalties but his scoring has been impressive) have all improved the Penguins. The current roster of Penguins is a far superior team than the last two seasons and Brandon Sutter has been present, unimpressive and overrated for both of those seasons.
Rossi’s argument that the Penguins are a weaker squad could not be any farther from the truth.
So what is actually wrong with Sidney Crosby? Absolutely nothing. Yes, Sidney Crosby is getting older and is no spring chicken anymore, but he is still playing at an extremely high level. The reason why Crosby is not producing at the same level as previous seasons is due to his newly improved two-way style of play, less time on ice and simply bad luck on shots.
There is nothing wrong with Sidney Crosby, he has finally become a complete hockey player instead of purely an offensive weapon.