During his first four seasons, Sidney Crosby was transparently pass-first. That’s not a bad thing in many ways since setting up teammates is a naturally selfless act and Crosby is one of the NHL’s most gifted playmakers. Still, when you consider how much the Pittsburgh Penguins depend on his production, opposing teams might have benefited from simply cutting off Crosby’s passing lanes.
Something changed during the 2009 playoffs, though. During the headline-grabbing Capitals-Penguins series, it seemed like something clicked. Crosby started scoring goals at a near Ovechkin-pace in that series, even if most of his goals were wildly different. While Ovechkin overpowered opponents and scored from ridiculous spots on the ice, Crosby succeeded by scoring ugly goals in tough spots.
My guess is that series – and a switch to a composite stick – helped Crosby develop confidence in his shot. He increased his career highs in goals (from 36 to 51) and shots on goal (278 to 298) and tied Steven Stamkos for the Maurice Richard Trophy. Stat crunching blog Behind the Net posed the reasonable question: can Crosby match his goal output from last season?
They make some great points in that post, but I thought I’d break down why he will (or won’t) hit the 50-goal mark in 2010-11.
Why he won’t score 50 again
- Crosby’s still a pass-first player at heart and the addition of Mike Comrie might give him a new running mate.
- His 17.1 shooting percentage for the 2009-10 season is about 3 percent higher than his typical 14 percent success rate. If Crosby again recorded 298 shots but only connected on his usual 14 percent rate, he would have only scored 41-42 goals.
- He played 81 games last season and generally has a lot of mileage from the last few seasons. Will he catch the injury bug again?
Why he could score 50 again
- Crosby might have changed his game enough to become a consistent goal scorer, especially if he keeps shooting.
- He’s just entering his prime at 23.
- There still will be a lot of pressure on Crosby to carry the team’s offense.
Overall, I agree with Behind the Net’s estimates that he’ll “regress” to the 40 goal range. How many goals do you think Crosby will score next season? Somewhere between 30 and 35, the predicted 40 goal range or perhaps 50 or more? Tell us what you think in the comments.
Update: Puck drop is now scheduled for 4:53 p.m. ET.
It’s not a familiar situation for the NHL, but it has happened before: a weather delay for a hockey game.
The Winnipeg Jets confirmed that the start time for their Heritage Classic game against the Edmonton Oilers has been delayed. The glare of the sun appears to be too much.
At the moment, it is not yet known how severe the delay will be. Puck drop was originally scheduled for just after 3 p.m. ET.
That’s a bummer, but at least it inspired a joke that would probably make Ilya Bryzgalov smile:
Warm-ups were moved to 4 p.m. ET. PHT will keep you posted if there are any other changes.
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) Former Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Demers is back at home after going to a hospital Saturday.
Demers’ Senate office would only confirm that the 72-year-old Demers, a Canadian senator, was at home Sunday, but didn’t provide any details about the reason he went to the hospital.
Demers had suffered a stroke in April, but he was at the Canadiens’ home opener Tuesday night, smiling in a wheelchair while handing a torch to captain Max Pacioretty to close out a pregame ceremony.
Demers led the Canadiens to their most recent Stanley Cup in 1993. He also coached the Quebec Nordiques, the Detroit Red Wings and the St. Louis Blues.
Demers was appointed to the Senate in 2009 by then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but later left the Conservative caucus in December to sit as an Independent.
At the time, he said he was uncomfortable with some of the fallout from the Senate expenses scandal and didn’t like to have to vote the Conservative party line all the time.
So, let’s assume that the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets will eventually play in the 2016 Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field on Sunday.
Every indication is that Cam Talbot and Connor Hellebuyck shall get the nods for their respective teams. Most assume, with the firepower on hand, that this could be a high-scoring game.
Hellebuyck isn’t flustered about all the goals the Jets have allowed so far, as he told NHL.com.
“It’s not something you’re really worried about,” Hellebuyck said. “It’s early in the year, it happens to a lot of teams. If you look at the trends in the past 10 years, there’s always a lot of goals being scored at the beginning of the year.”
They’re not just facing dangerous offenses. They’re also dealing with the conditions, as the game was already delayed by the glare of the sun.
Goalies are already accustomed to having their views compromised by screening forwards. Will Hellebuyck and Talbot squint through the Heritage Classic?
Wild at Islanders – Darcy Kuemper vs. Thomas Greiss
Coyotes at Rangers – Louis Domingue vs. (probably) Henrik Lundqvist
Canucks at Ducks – Ryan Miller vs. (likely) John Gibson
The Winnipeg Jets host the Edmonton Oilers at the 2016 Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field this afternoon. You can watch it on NHL Network, Sportsnet, TVA Sports 2 or NHL.tv at 3 p.m. ET.
With that in mind, let’s get prepped with super-important stats about unhealthy food, interesting photos and fun facts.
- Want to get an in-depth look at the rivalry between the Jets and the Oilers? NHL.com and Sportsnet both have some great retrospectives.
- The CBC notes that there was rain ending in the morning but it’s expected to be cloudy. Overall, sounds like a nice climate for an outdoor hockey game. NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika wonders if the sun’s glare might cause some issues.
- No doubt about it, the futures of both franchises will be on display, from Connor McDavid to Patrik Laine.
- The league’s PR department tweeted out some silly facts: 425 lbs. of cheese curds “will top poutine” during the event and 2.5 kilometers (about 1.55 miles) of hot dogs and “smokies” will be consumed.
(Imagines one enormous cheese dog.)
Now that you have important food facts in mind, here are a few fun photos as promised.
Should be a great time.
Oh, and in case you missed it, here is a recap of Saturday’s wonderful alumni game: