clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Consistent and reliable, Sidney Crosby is still playing at high level through midway point

The Captain has been impressive, even by his own standards.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Minnesota Wild Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

At 31-years-old, and with many young talents on the rise surrounding him, Sidney Crosby was predicted to show a slight decline in point production by pundits around the NHL.

That obviously isn’t to say they think he’s washed up, but given his age, coupled with the elite youth movement taking the league by storm, it was safe to assume he finally hit the latter part of his prime and would “slow down” on the score sheet and in the league rankings.

But this 2018-19 version of Sidney Crosby cares not for his doubters.

Just 10 games into the season, Crosby and teammates Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel were blowing everybody out of the water in terms of The Athletic’s Dom Lusczczyszyn’s Game Score metric — a stat that basically measures single-game productivity from a box score, individual, and on-ice performance to conclude which player had the best game on a specific night. Now, with 40 contests under his belt, Crosby is still surging at a stellar rate, leading all players with at least 500 minutes of ice time, including the likes of McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Patrice Bergeron, and Taylor Hall, in Game Score at a 1.54 average for the season.

Even with Nikita Kucherov, who probably just put up the most explosive offensive performance in a single month with 30 points in 14 games (1.85 Game Score) and Erik Karlsson, who lives and dies by even-strength contribution (1.87 Game Score) above him, Crosby’s 1.50 individual clip for the month of December proves just how reliable and consistent he has been night in and night out since the beginning of the year. It got him ranked fifth, just behind Boston’s offensive leader David Pastrnak.

Game Score isn’t the only thing driving Crosby’s play. His underlying metrics and general boxcars are also sparkling. In Relative Corsi among all NHL players in the 2018 calendar year, Crosby achieved a plus-8.9 rating, good for third-best in the league. Crosby also netted 102 points — a top-five finish behind McDavid, Mikko Rantanen, MacKinnon, and Kucherov. His possession metrics for 2018-19 specifically leads all Penguins players with at least 500 TOI, including a 56.16 Corsi For line, 70.15 percent Goals For percentage, and a 56.6 percent High Danger Chances For number.

I mentioned it Wednesday night in his All-Star nomination, but his ability to drive play this year has been unrivaled, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone packing a bigger punch than Crosby on a consistent, nightly basis. His team-leading 50 points (19 goals, 31 assists) has him tied for 10th in the NHL’s current points leaders ranking. He’s also been on an absolute tear as of late. In the month of December alone, Crosby scored 20 points in 15 games to boost the Penguins to a 11-3-1 record, second only to the seemingly untouchable Tampa Bay Lightning. He’s currently riding a five-straight multi-point game streak with 12 points in that span (three goals, nine assists) — tied for his career longest.

This season is shaping out to be one of Crosby’s best, and if he continues to stay steady on the score sheet and avoid any major injury setbacks, he has a legitimate chance to finish highly-touted in the Hart trophy race.