Hockey is an incredibly team oriented sport. No one cares much who gets the personal credit for goals or assists, players just focus on helping the team win. But, with just six games left in the season (and a couple of days between games) let's take an individualistic look at highlighting players that are having their best seasons in the NHL, or who have the chance to set new personal records.
I kept it realistic -- as an example, Matt Cooke has 10 goals this season, his personal best was 15 back in 2002-03. Could the Cookie Monster conceivably score 5 goals in the last 6 games? If it's too much of a stretch, it's not included in my list here so, sorry Cooke (with or without a goalie) it doesn't look like you're setting a personal record this season for goals. Also excluded for this exercise rookies. Guys like Alex Goligoski, John Curry and Paul Bissonnette are just setting the table, so of course anything they do would be personal highs.
After the jump you'll see just how young and better the Penguins are getting, as several players have set the bar a little higher for themselves with their play this season...
Penguins who have set personal records (old mark and season in parenthesis):
Evgeni Malkin - points - 107 (106 in 2007-08)
Evgeni Malkin - assists - 74 (59 in 2007-08)
Jordan Staal - assists - 21 (16 in 2007-08)
Tyler Kennedy - goals - 13 (10 in 2007-08)
Tyler Kennedy - assists - 16 (9 in 2007-08)
Kris Letang - goals - 9 (6 in 2007-08)
Kris Letang - assists - 20 (11 in 2007-08)
Brooks Orpik - assists - 17 (10 in 2007-08)
Rob Scuderi- assists - 13 (10 in 2006-07)
Penguins who are getting close to set a new personal record (old mark and season in parenthesis):
Max Talbot - goals - 11 (had 13 in 2006-07)
Brooks Orpik- goals - 2 (had 2 in 2005-06)
Rob Scuderi- goals - 1 (had 1 in 2003-04 and 06-07 )
Chris Kunitz- goals - 24 (had 25 in 2006-07)
Mark Eaton- goals - 3 (had 4 in 2003-04)
Eric Godard - PIMs - 164 (had 171 in 2007-08)
Marc-Andre Fleury - shutouts - 4 (had 5 in 2006-07)
Marc-Andre Fleury - saves - 1553 (had 1770 in 2006-07)
Look at how guys like Malkin, Letang and Kennedy are shattering the marks they put up from just one season ago. Guys like Orpik and Scuderi have benefitted from increased ice-time--and low totals from seasons past-- to join the list as well. Kunitz is quietly about to tie his season high the next time he lights the lamp and Godard' PIMs on extremely limited ice time is filling his role well (Big Georges Laraque has "just" 141 PIMs last season for Pittsburgh).
All in all when constructing this list, one can really tell why Sidney Crosby isn't getting too much consideration for regular season awards. Other than the play of his teammate Evgeni Malkin-- which has a lot to do with it-- Crosby just has set his bar extremely high. His 29 goals are good for a tie of 27th place league wide, but Sid scored 39 as a rookie. Crosby's current 68 assists put him solidly in second this year in the league for that category, but that's a full 16 assists less than he got in his Art Ross/Hart/Pearson trophy season of 2006-07.
Just goes to show how much Crosby has accomplished at the age of 21 and how any injuries that keep him out of games and/or limit his effectiveness will essentially keep him out of besting his already high personal stats on any given year. Sidney Crosby is going to have 30+ goals and 70+ assists this season for his 3rd 100+ point season in four years (the ankle injury last year the only thing keeping him out of being 4-4) and it's going fly under the radar. Some of that is deserved credit for what Malkin and Alex Ovechkin are doing. Some of it is probably anti-Crosby backlash. But it's still crazy.