Pittsburgh Penguins Player Grades: Assessing Sidney Crosby’s 2014 Season


As we begin our player grades and assessment, there’s nowhere better to start than at the top. We’ll begin with Pittsburgh Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby.

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Sid was a victim of a lot of criticism this season by fans and media, myself included in that group. In a season that saw him come within a few points of winning a scoring title, Crosby had his fair share of ups and downs in 2014-15.

No matter your opinion on whether the criticism was valid or not, the numbers behind those opinions don’t lie. Scoring plummeted across the NHL this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t expect more production from the best player in the world.

Below is a breakdown of how Sidney Crosby finished the 2014-15 regular season, including his possession numbers, compared to last year.

That’s obviously a considerable drop in production. And, while my early season assessment of Sid was that he lacked confidence and looked a bit lethargic, there is considerable blame that needs placed on his line mates and their lack of production as well.  He also saw a significant drop in ice time, which is something that Mike Johnston was clear about doing early in the season.

I think the most disappointing part of this season for me is that aside from a small battle with the mumps, Crosby was healthy all year and could have run away with the scoring title. He came out on fire and then slowly tapered off as we neared 2015, following suit with the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The part of Crosby’s game that improved this season is something that’s hard to exhibit without boring you with a bunch of stats. But, if you look at the chart above you’ll notice that his 5v5 corsi-for and fenwick-for jumped two to three percentage points. That’s a large improvement for those metrics.

Also, his offensive zone face-off’s jumped from 30.8 to 39.1. That’s another good indication that his two-way game improved drastically and he was living in the opponent’s territory. Both Jim Rutherford and Mike Johnston praised Crosby for his focus on the defensive side of things this season. I’m all for a more rounded game, but when a team is struggling to score you need your best players to produce points.

I think we can all agree that throughout the season we saw flashes of the brilliance we’re used to from the Captain. He showed a good burst through the neutral zone, which is Sid’s trademark, and was next to impossible to beat in puck battles below the goal line. But, he didn’t seem to possess that ability to put the team on his back and take over a game. That’s where I go back to a lack of confidence and a less aggressive approach this year.

Similar to his production throughout the season, I’ve waivered quite a bit on my opinion of Sidney Crosby’s play. The overall struggles of the Pittsburgh Penguins overshadowed a lot of the good things that Crosby did this year. But, you look for a guy like Crosby to be a part of the solution when you’re unable to score consistently and failing to execute on the power play.

I look for Sid to have a huge bounce back season in 2015-16. But, as I assess his performance this year I have to give him a B. That’s likely the highest grade I’ll give to this squad, except maybe Marc-Andre Fleury, as the Pittsburgh Penguins were dismal since the New Year.

What would you grade Sidney Crosby’s performance this year?

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