Philadelphia Flyers v Pittsburgh Penguins

(Video) PHT Extra: On the ‘nitpicking’ of Sidney Crosby

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Sidney Crosby only has 71 points in 64 games.

He may not even win the scoring race.

What a disaster!

He should probably just retire.

OK, fine, maybe Jim Rutherford is right and we’re “nitpicking” a bit.

Maybe Crosby’s numbers are down (slightly) because he isn’t “cheating” defensively and he’s more committed to playing a two-way game.

And perhaps he’s a victim of an evolving NHL, where there’s “less room” to operate and fewer power plays than there were a few years ago.

That being said, it’s no secret the NHL is a young man’s game; a league in which players are considered “genetic freaks” if they’re able to remain dominant into their 30s. At 27 years old — and with around 700 games, regular season and playoffs combined, on the ol’ body odometer — Sid the Kid is well into middle age by hockey standards.

So…are his most prolific scoring years behind him?

Sidney Crosby on his down year: ‘I wouldn’t change anything I’m doing’

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Sidney Crosby might not hit 100 points this season. He’s only on pace to hit 86, according to NHL.com.

And while he may be only two points off the league lead as of Friday afternoon, before the New York Islanders on John Tavares hit the ice for their game against the Senators, this is being talked about as a down season for Crosby.

His goal totals are down from a year ago. His point total is down.

And yet, he’s manufactured a Corsi For rating of 55.7 per cent at five-on-five, which suggests puck possession isn’t an issue.

“I wouldn’t change anything I’m doing, to be honest with you,” said Crosby, as per The Canadian Press. “I’m working hard. I’m doing my best. If people’s expectations are higher than mine, then I can’t change that.”

On an individual level, this is his third worst season for shooting percentage, behind the lockout-shortened season and the 2011-12 campaign, when he played only 22 games.

The Penguins team shooting percentage with Crosby on the ice during five-on-five play this season has dropped below nine per cent, which is the lowest its been in his time as an NHL player, according to stats.hockeyanalysis.com.

“I’d love to score more,” he later added.

“You can’t explain why pucks hit posts and bounce out instead of in. I don’t have a great explanation for you. Other than probably a handful of times this year, I feel like some of those pucks would usually find a way to go in and not out.”

While his point totals might be down overall, he’s been a regular contributor on the score sheet over the past three weeks. Four times in his last nine games, he’s recorded two points or more.

Oddsmaker: Sidney Crosby no longer Hart Trophy favorite

Sidney Crosby
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Although Sidney Crosby is on a three-game point streak, he went on a rough stretch — at least when measured against the incredibly high standard he’s held to — from Jan. 20 to Feb. 19 where he recorded four goals and seven points in 13 games.

That seems to have taken its toll as Crosby’s no longer the favorite to win the Hart Trophy based on the odds from online bookmaker Bovada:

Carey Price 5/2
John Tavares 5/2
Sidney Crosby 3/1
Ryan Getzlaf 5/1
Alex Ovechkin 6/1
Jakub Voracek 15/2
Rick Nash 15/1
Mark Giordano 20/1
Vladimir Tarasenko 20/1

No goaltender has won the Hart Trophy since Jose Theodore in 2001–02, but there’s no denying that Carey Price has been vital to the Montreal Canadiens’ success. Meanwhile, Tavares was the big mover as he had 20/1 odds in early February.

Ovechkin also saw his chances jump significantly, from 15/1 to 6/1 as he chases his third straight Rocket Richard Trophy. Voracek has fallen from 9/2 to 15/2 while Philadelphia Flyers teammate Claude Giroux has slid off the list entirely.

Don Cherry: NHL stars like Sidney Crosby ‘shouldn’t fight’

Don Cherry
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Don Cherry has taken issue with the amount of fights NHL super stars are getting into these days, using the latest case of Sidney Crosby scrapping with Brandon Dubinsky as his example.

Crosby and Dubinsky dropped the gloves in a spirited but quick bout after getting tangled up together in the corner during a game between the Penguins and Blue Jackets this week.

“Crosby should never have to put up with stuff like this. This has been going on, he’s had concussions. He shouldn’t fight,” said Cherry during his Coach’s Corner segment on Saturday.

(Interesting to note that while Cherry brought up Crosby’s concussion history as a reason why Pittsburgh’s star shouldn’t fight, he later turned around and basically dismissed concussions and the connection they have to fighting in hockey.)

Cherry’s main issue was the lack of “protection” stars have now compared to the days of Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy during the 1980s. He then showed several clips of stars like Evgeni Malkin, Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron, Rick Nash and others in fights.

“They should be protected all the time,” said Cherry. “That’s why they get injured all the time. They should never, ever be fighting.”

Video: The Sidney Crosby penalty that wasn’t

Pittsburgh Penguins v Philadelphia Flyers
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Normally, if a player’s leaving the penalty box before two minutes are up, it’s because his team allowed a goal. That wasn’t the case with Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins are Sunday.

It appeared as if Crosby had been whistled for tripping Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya. Crosby was … unhappy.

Officials had a little on-ice meeting following that call and decided to spring Crosby out of the box, erasing the penalty in an unusual moment:

Mike Milbury was among those who believe that the right call was (eventually) made, with Jeremy Roenick going as far to say that he hopes this kind of thing happens more often.

The optics are a little odd, though, especially regarding a polarizing star like Crosby. What do you think, though?