What’s wrong with the player many have called the best hockey player in the world this season?
It is difficult to say since Crosby began this season averaging 1.36 points per game for his career. Crosby is currently on pace for 12 goals and 45 points right now. If those numbers hold up they will represent the worst performance of Crosby’s entire hockey career.
At the start of the season Crosby was having a now familiar issue adjusting to the team’s new personnel. The much talked about Crosby-Phil Kessel pairing didn’t produce the expected results for the Penguin offense. Penguins fans were hopeful that Kessel was the answer. Other superstar centers have had star wingers. The Buffalo Sabres Gilbert Perreault had Rick Martin and Rene Robert, the Bruins Phil Esposito had Ken Hodge and Wayne Cashman, the Flyers Bobby Clarke had Reggie Leach and Bill Barber and Pittsburgh’s Mario Lemieux had Jagr and Francis on his line for a period of time.
Now Lemieux and the Penguins have long been looking for an ideal trigger man to capitalize on Crosby’s playmaking and passing skills. Before Phil Kessel the Penguins have tried several combinations on the right wing.
Bill Guerin, Evegeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis have all taken a turn on Crosby’s line. Each player has had some success with Dupuis logging the most minutes. He sometimes hooked up with Malkin for a limited time span.
Crosby has been intense, but seems to be trying too hard to do things that have previously come natural. The Penguins are playing a more defensive scheme than they have in past seasons, ranking fifth in goals against but 25th in goals scored. The Penguins have had several high octane offenses in their history led by Pierre Larouche, Mario Lemieux and Crosby. But the team has never had the type of sputtering offense that is on display currently in its entire history.
Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek was fourth in the NHL in points last season The Anaheim Ducks were projected to be among the top teams in the Western Conference, and right now they have only three points more than the last-place Edmonton Oilers and Ryan Getzlaf is on a 42-point pace.
Crosby is not alone, but the pressure of being ranked among the very best in the world to play the game undoubtedly accentuates the intense pressure already on his back.Sidney Crosby and the Penguins have a lot of games to play before the season ends and it stands to reason that both the team and he will recover. The NHL is studying the problem with goal production and maybe they should look closer at Pittsburgh.