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.
John Tortorella could only blame John Tortorella after the Blue Jackets got blown out in both their split-squad games Sunday against the Blues.
The Jackets dropped a 7-3 decision in St. Louis and lost 5-0 at home.
“Let’s not make any judgments here as far as today,” Tortorella said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “Today was going to be a mess. I give the guys credit. I’m not being negative about the team. They did what we asked of them (the first three days). They pushed. They gave it to us there and it suffers in these games.”
Tortorella, who runs notoriously tough training camps, wants to “make sure our conditioning is there by the 13th,” when the Jackets open the regular season.
Columbus plays its first three games at home, against Boston, San Jose and Chicago. A good start is going to be key for the Jackets, especially after starting last season 0-8-0.
New York liked enough of what it saw from Steve Bernier last season to offer him another kick at the can.
On Monday, the Isles announced that — for the second year in a row — Bernier would be coming to training camp on a PTO.
Last fall, Bernier parlayed his tryout into a one-year, $750,000 deal but only saw a limited body of work. The former first-round pick scored six points in 24 regular season games, then dressed for six playoff contests.
Bernier isn’t the only veteran forward attending Isles camp on a PTO, as longtime Devils winger Stephen Gionta is also there (Gionta and Bernier were once teammates in New Jersey).
There are holes to fill up front. The Isles lost three key forwards in free agency — Frans Nielsen, Matt Martin and Kyle Okposo — which will result in some of last year’s third- and fourth-line players getting bumped to more prominent roles.
Those promotions could bode well for Bernier and Gionta.
The Ottawa Senators announced today that they’ve purchased the AHL franchise in Binghamton, N.Y. and will move it to Belleville, Ont. for the start of the 2017-18 season.
From the press release:
The Ottawa Senators and the City of Belleville have also agreed on an eight-year agreement to welcome the newly minted Belleville Senators to the city.
In order to properly accommodate a new professional AHL team, the City of Belleville will immediately undertake more than $18.5 million in important renovations to modernize Belleville’s Yardmen Arena and prepare it for professional hockey for the first time in the city’s history.
The Baby Sens have played in Binghamton since 2002, winning a Calder Cup in 2011. AHL officials are reportedly working to secure another franchise for the city for the 2017-18 season.
Belleville to Ottawa is a mere 2.5-hour drive, according to Google. The Belleville Bulls were an OHL team that started playing in 1981 before moving to Hamilton in 2015.
Dennis Seidenberg has been a key player for Team Europe at the World Cup, and he doesn’t even have an NHL contract.
Seidenberg, 35, logged 23:30 in Europe’s 3-2 overtime upset of Sweden on Sunday. Only Roman Josi (29:00) played more for the winning side. Seidenberg even played more than his old Boston teammate, Zdeno Chara (22:26).
“I’ve played quite a bit,” Seidenberg said earlier in the tournament, per the Associated Press. “People should know what I can do and can’t do by now, but nonetheless this is an important tournament for me.”
A Stanley Cup champion in 2011, Seidenberg became an unrestricted free agent when he was bought out by the Bruins over the summer. At first, the decision shocked him, but the shock eventually passed. So far, he’s been holding out for a guaranteed contract, as opposed to a tryout.
The Ottawa Senators are reportedly a potential landing spot.
Seidenberg may not be a full-time, top-four defenseman anymore, but he should still be able to hold down a bottom-pairing role, with the ability to log top-four minutes if there’s an injury.
He’ll get another good look from the scouts on Tuesday when Team Europe opens its best-of-three series with the heavy favorites from Canada. He’s not the only UFA blue-liner on his team, as 34-year-old Christian Ehrhoff is also playing a role, albeit a smaller one.