Pittsburgh Penguins: 15 Years In, Sidney Crosby Still Offensive Driving Force
|Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images|
We continue our breakdown of the Pittsburgh Penguins 2019-2020 season with individual player recaps. Today will feature Sidney Crosby.
It was another season for Sidney Crosby, and another were he scored at more than a point-per-game pace. Now 15 years into his storied NHL career, he has never known a season in which he didn’t score that that pace.
It was unfortunately also another season in which the Pittsburgh Penguins were forced to play without their captain, as Crosby missed 28 games this past season due to an injury.
One of the best players to ever play the game, Crosby has missed over 200 games over the span of his career, and there was a brief time when it wasn’t a certain thing we’d see him on the ice again.
He fought through his concussion issues, and knocking on the door for some very big milestones. Going into this season, Crosby is 16 games away from 1,000 played, a milestone at a point in time we weren’t sure we’d see him get to.
He is also 38 goals away from 500 on his career, and while he has only reached that mark in a single season three times, Crosby has always been able to elevate a certain part of his game when he decides to focus on it.
Crosby also finds himself 37 points away 1,300 in his career.
It was just two season’s ago that Crosby reached the 100-point plateau, so it’s nothing too far back in the history books. This past season, Crosby registered 47 points (16 G, 31 A) in 41 games played.
Crosby: 2019-2020 By The Numbers
Ever since being drafted first overall in 2005, Crosby has been one of the best playmakers in the league. 16 seasons later that is still the case, has only a handful of players finished with a better primary assist rate than Crosby did in 2019-2020.
It’s not shocking to see Crosby rank so high in playmaking, or even P/60, not only is he one of the greatest passers of all-time, the rise of Jake Guentzel into an elite winger has given the 33-year old center something he has rarely had over the course of his career.
Even though both missed time with injuries at points during the season, the chemistry between the two is uncanny as they can alternate between ‘shooter’ and ‘passer’ on any given shift.
Crosby has even upped his defensive play later in his career, rounding out his game even if most of the advanced numbers don’t play in his favor. One that did was takeaways, ranking in the 77th percentile in the metric.
Like stated above, Crosby was far better defensively than these numbers state, inconsistent play on the blue line and in net certainly contributed to that but outside of that, it’s really amazing to see him play at this kind of level this late in his career (if you consider ‘33’ late).
Offensively speaking he is still every bit an elite driving force of creating opportunities for his teammates. His expected goals for rate was ranked higher than his actual on ice goal rate, a full season playing with Guentzel could help close the gap next year.
Entering his 17th NHL season, having accomplished so much in his career already, at this point it’s just padding an already Hall of Fame resume for Crosby.
With Guentzel on his left, General Manager Jim Rutherford went out and traded for Kasperi Kapanen in the offseason as a player he hoped could play on the right side with Crosby.
Kapanen has a lone 20-goal on his resume in his young career, but is sound defensively, which could allow Crosby and Guentzel to press a little harder in the offensive zone.
Even if Kapanen doesn’t work on the first line, Crosby has showed the ability to elevate the play of just about anyone that flanks him.
While others have certainly passed Crosby talent wise, when healthy there are still few with his determination to get better and do what’s necessary to win.
While the window is a lot closer to being closed than when it was wide open, Crosby remains one of the best players in the league, and isn’t likely to change this upcoming season.
Follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy and @SportBlogMurphy for more sports talk!