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2020-21 Season in Review: Sidney Crosby

In the latest installment of the Pensburgh season review series, it’s the captain, Sidney Crosby.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Islanders Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports


Player: Sidney Crosby
Born: August 7, 1987 (33 years old)
Height: 5’ 11”
Weight: 200 pounds
Hometown: Cole Harbour. Nova Scotia, Canada
Shoots: Left
Draft: 2005, Pittsburgh Penguins, 1st round, 1st overall
2020-21 Statistics: 55 games played — 24 goals, 38 assists, 62 points

Contract Status: Originally signed all the way back in 2012, Crosby has another four years remaining on what was a 12-year deal that will cost the Penguins a fitting $8.7 million against the salary cap.


2017-18 Pensburgh Season in Review (80% A Grade, 18% B Grade)

2018-19 Pensburgh Season in Review (72% A+ Grade, 25% A Grade)

2019-20 Pensburgh Season in Review (25% A Grade, 42% B+ Grade, 27% B- Grade)


Besides goaltending, the inability of the Penguins top line to get much rolling offensively played a major factor in their demise against the New York Islanders. Crosby was especially quiet in the six game loss, recording only a single goal and a single assist and was held off the scoresheet in four of the games. While it was an entire unit failure, Crosby leads the group and as the Penguins captain and superstar, this playoff season will be one he wants to put behind him.

Monthly Splits

via Yahoo!

Story of the Season

Oh, just another point per game plus season for Crosby, the 16th time he’s done reached that milestone in his career which just happens to be the same amount of season he’s played in the NHL. That ties Wayne Gretzky for most point per game seasons to start a career just further adding to his already great legacy.

Likely gone are the days where Sid will be posting 100+ points and being a serious contender for the Hart Trophy, but even now approaching his mid-30s, Crosby still stands out as one of the best players in the league.

Perhaps Crosby spent his last offseason reading over all the doubtful article written about the Penguins future and their window closing and decided he wasn’t quite ready for that curtain to fall. He led the Penguins in all major offensive categories and propelled them to what many saw as an unlikely East Division crown.

Regular season 5v5 advanced stats

Data via Natural Stat Trick. Ranking is out of 16 forwards on the team who qualified by playing a minimum of 150 minutes.

Corsi For%: 52.1% (5th)
Goals For%: 56.3% (7th)
xGF%: 51.2% (5th)
Scoring Chance %: 53.4% (5th)
High Danger Scoring Chance%: 51.3% (6th)
5v5 on-ice shooting%: 9.0% (9th)
On-ice save%: 92.8% (8th)
Goals/60: 0.75 (8th)
Assist/60: 1.1 (8th)
Points/60: 1.8 (8th)

—Many people may look at these numbers and expect Crosby to be tops among Penguins players, but his heavy usage actually hurts him in the long run. Still, his advanced stats were once again very, very good and it’s always a positive for the Penguins when he’s on the ice making plays.

—An example of the above statement is looking at Crosby’s Goals For % and checking out the players above him. This season, Crosby logged over 870 minutes of ice time and posted the seventh best GF%. Of the players who ranked above him, only two played over 500 minutes and the others had an even smaller sample size.

—Regardless of where Crosby ranks among his teammates in these categories it’s clear that Crosby is still a major driver of play when he’s on the ice. Combined with players like Jake Guentzel and Bryant Rust, Crosby remains one of the most effective offensive forces in the league even if they raw scoring numbers aren’t what they used to be.

Charts n’at

This is the three year rolling WAR average for Crosby and as you can see he’s been pretty decent during that stretch. Offense is better than the defense but that’s too be expected but don’t discount what he’s able to do in the defensive zone. He generates Selke discussion for a reason even if he never gets nominated. There is also a reason he’s regularly voted as best al around player in the league by his peers.

Even at 33 Crosby continues to impress across the board and doesn’t show many signs of slowing down. He’s always been more of an assist man and that shows up here in a big way and what really sticks out is his primary assist rate. Easily among the best in the league in that category. Soaking up only $8.7 million of cap space, Crosby still comes at a bargain for the Penguins based on what he provides.

It’s pretty easy to tell where Sid does most of his work in the offensive zone given the graphs above. He’s always had a nose for the net and he loves to play in close where he can rely on his hands to make plays in tight. The expected goals for absolutely skyrockets with him on the ice and he does a good job drawing penalties as well.

Since entering the league back in 2005, Crosby has been a mainstay on the Penguins top line but that shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. It really is unfortunate to see those large gaps of white space during his age 23 and 24 seasons. Add in a lockout and pandemic shortened seasons and it makes one wonder just what numbers he could have posted.

When Crosby is on the ice, the Penguins are generally the team carrying most of the play. Of course no one is perfect and Crosby has his shifts and games that he may not be at his best, but for the most party, he is a driver of play which you expect from your superstars.

The amount of shots Crosby takes from at our near the goal line is almost comical. He’ll shoot from anywhere as the chart shows, but his confidence in trying the impossible cannot be overstated. It doesn’t work more often than it does, but when it does, it’s usually ends up on the highlight tapes. If Crosby has the puck below the dots, defenders and goalie better be on their game.

There is a major gulf in the Penguins expected goals numbers with Crosby on the ice as compared to him sitting on the bench. It’s a sizeable difference that can be seen especially well when looking below the face-off dots. It’s a testament to Crosby’s work down low just how much better the Penguins are at scoring from in close with him on the ice than what happens to the offense when he’s having a breather.


Bottom line

While the scoring numbers may not be what they were in his younger days, there is no doubt Crosby remains the best player on the Penguins roster. He’s still scoring at over a point per game pace at the age of 33 and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down even as the seasons pass.

Ideal 2021-22

Just keep being Sid. That’s all there really is to it for Crosby and the Penguins. As long as Sid keeps playing at a high level the Penguins are going to be in contention. It’s obvious the Stanley Cup window is closing and no one will argue that, but that window is still cracked for as long as Crosby can do Crosby things on the ice. It’s more up to the guys around him stepping up rather than Crosby carrying the entire load.

Question to ponder

With four years left on his contract and approaching the age of 34, how much does Crosby realistically have left in the tank? By the time his contract expires, Crosby will have just completed his 20th NHL season and be on the cusp of turning 38 years old. Anytime a player hits 30 questions start to arise about how much he has left. So far, Crosby has shown he is nowhere near done, but Father Time always wins in the end. Let’s hope Crosby keep him at bay for a few years longer.


How would you grade Sidney Crosby’s 2020-21 season?

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  • 78%
    (509 votes)
  • 20%
    (130 votes)
  • 1%
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    (0 votes)
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    (2 votes)
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