After getting blown off the ice 4-0 by a game against the San Jose Sharks on February 23rd, Sidney Crosby has been a man on a mission for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
A goal and at least two points in each of the four games since that low-point against San Jose. Down three of the team’s best four defensemen to injury, it couldn’t have happened at a better time for a team desperate for Crosby’s all-around game and production.
“Everyone is trying to do their part,” Crosby said after last night’s win in Montreal. “Especially with the injuries we have. Everyone is just trying to contribute in any way they can. All those little things add up right now. We are trying to play solid hockey.”
As usual, Crosby’s modesty about “little things” don’t paint the full picture of his own contributions with all these goals and multi-point games.
The timing has been incredible too - Crosby scored the game’s first goal against Philly and Montreal. He assisted Jake Guentzel’s game opening goal against Columbus. That’s making a big opening impact and scoring the first goal is critically important to getting a result. Consider that Pittsburgh is 22-11-6 in games when they score first this season, and just 12-11-3 when they go down 1-0 in a game. That makes a big difference and Crosby factoring into three of the first goals these past few games is a real and big value add.
This scoring hot streak of 10 points in four games has pushed Crosby to a tie for fourth in the league’s scoring race, giving him 83 points (29 goals + 54 assists) in 62 games. Crosby won’t be winning the Art Ross trophy this year, Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov is doing some special things not seen in years and years with 106 points (31g+75a) in 66 games.
But as The Athletic found with an anonymous NHL player poll, there’s no doubt who the league considers to be the game’s best all-around player.
Ted Lindsay if players don’t just vote Kucherov based on points (which..couldn’t blame them) pic.twitter.com/Iy0Y6iQbS8— Jimmy Rixner (@Hooks_Orpik) March 3, 2019
Whether or not Crosby wins any individual awards this season is clearly in the back seat right now priority-wise for a team just scratching to stay in the playoff hunt.
“[Crosby] understands the position we’re in,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s doing everything he can to help this team win. He just plays the game the right way, plays on both sides of the puck, he’s good defensively. It’s obvious what he does offensively. He’s the best 200-foot player in the game. He understands the stakes are high at this time of year and he’s doing everything he can to help us win.”
The Pens are definitely being driven by #87 right now, and Evgeni Malkin has three goals in the last four games as well. The star players are certainly doing their part in the playoff push.
And from reddit, how’s this for a stat - Crosby’s points last night ensured he will end the season with more points than games played, his 14th consecutive season where he’ll score more than a point-per-game. The only players in NHL history to have more PPG+ seasons to start a career are Mario Lemieux (15) and Wayne Gretzky (also 15). Always cool to see Sid put his name in the realm of the all-time greats.