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Sidney Crosby overtakes Mario Lemieux in career games played tomorrow

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But will he catch him in points?

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Tomorrow night will mark another milestone for Sidney Crosby as he suits up for career game #916 for the Pittsburgh Penguins. You’ve probably heard why it’s a big deal, but here’s another look:

It’s tough to pass Mario Lemieux in any all-time category but here’s one Crosby will over take the big guy. Any possibly never lose in the future? Tough to never say never but this certainly is a mark that should stand for a while. Then again, when Lemieux passed Jean Pronovost sometime in 2001 most probably thought the same (or thought Jaromir Jagr would pass him) and that never came to be, so the future can be uncertain like that.

After all, 915 games is the equivalent of just over 11 full 82-game NHL seasons. Perhaps the next franchise player can stay healthy and make a run at it. But hopefully Crosby adds a lot of distance on it too.

One thing I’ve liked to talk about over the years - like here in 2014, here in 2017 when Crosby got to 1,000 points and here again in 2017 - is if #87 will pass #66 in other career categories.

Goals

Crosby would need 256 more to tie Lemieux. Really since 2017-18, Sid’s on a 32 goal/season pace which would mean exactly eight more seasons of uninterrupted play to get there. That one doesn’t seem likely given age. So unless Crosby ratchets the goals back up, goals at this point looks safe for Mario. Then again, Sid was on a 40-goal/season pace as recently as 2015-17, so it’s not impossible if the game continues to get a little more wide-open and/or scoring and power plays increase that Crosby could make a run at this. All in all though, to keep it real this one is the tallest mountain to climb given that goal scoring is naturally going to decrease as Crosby continues to age.

Assists

Lemieux is 290 career assists ahead of Crosby, but Sid has averaged 0.83 assists/game in his career - which by far is the best among his modern contemporaries. If Crosby can stay on this pace, he will pass Lemieux in 4.26 seasons, so even if he drops off a bit this one seems like a much better bet that assuming health and Jake Guentzel, Crosby has a pretty good shot at this point to surpass Lemieux’s 1,033 career helpers. In fact, barring some disastrous situation, this mark has got to be the easiest to call that it should be the next major milestone Crosby passes Lemieux on.

Points

The difference now is 546. If Crosby could keep producing points like he is this season (61 in 51 games) that would take him 456 more games to pass Lemieux. That is 5.5 more seasons of maintaining this level of play, and of course playing all the games. Crosby, 31, may not have either, but then again could just as easily - especially since scoring is up this year and the league seems motivated to keep the game getting more open.

“5.5 seasons” might not seem like a lot, but he wouldn’t get there until the 2024-25 season at this rate - which, funny enough is the last year Crosby is under contract for with the Pens. There’s also a possibly lockout that could rob more games from getting to this number.

If I had to make predictions, I would say under 690 goals for Crosby, over 1,033 assists and then for points....It’s going to be very close. Hopefully he makes a strong run at it.

But now that Lemieux and Crosby are tied, you can really get an appreciation for Lemieux’s greatness as well as how much the game has changed over the years. For as great as Crosby has been, and no player in this era has scored more per game, he’s still miles behind where #66 got to in his career.

Two special players and certainly something Pittsburgh has been proud of since 1984.

It’ll be interesting to see how the poll goes - almost two years ago to the day in 2017 the last time we ran this only 34% of respondents thought Crosby would pass Lemieux. Let’s remove the hedging option and ask straight up now as we’re two years closer to the finish line and see if the results shift drastically.

Poll

At this point do you think Sidney Crosby passes Mario Lemieux’s career points scored total?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    Yes
    (158 votes)
  • 55%
    No, but he’s still great
    (200 votes)
358 votes total Vote Now