Sidney Crosby barely beat the buzzer with an empty net goal on Saturday afternoon to help give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. The win completed a three-game sweep of the Devils, and for the time being moved them into first place in the East Division as they continue to compete with the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders (who play each other on Saturday night).
The goal for Crosby is significant on an individual level because it gives him his 55th point of the season. That guarantees that he will be a point-per-game player for the 2020-21 season (he will play in a maximum of 55 games this season). Why does that matter? Because it means that Crosby has now averaged a point-per-game in each of his first 16 seasons in the league.
The only other player in league history that can make that claim is Wayne Gretzky, who started his career with 19 consecutive point-per-game seasons.
A few other quick numbers to ponder…
• Gretzky (19) and Gordie Howe (17) are the only players in league history with more point-per-game seasons than Crosby. Howe’s 17 seasons were not consecutive to start his career. He did not record his first point-per-game season until his fifth season in the league.
• Crosby’s consistency offensively has been pretty remarkable during his career. He has only had three seasons where he has averaged less than 1.10 points per game, and has never been lower than 1.06 (the 2015-16 season).
• Since entering the league during the 2005-06 his career average is 1.28 per game. That places him seventh all-time in league history. When you look at the top-30 players on that list there are only four that did not spend the bulk of their careers playing between the mid-1970s and mid-1990s when goal scoring in the league reached its highest peak. Those four players are Crosby, Connor McDavid, Evgeni Malkin, and Alex Ovechkin.
• Among players that have played since 2005-06, Crosby and McDavid (1.38) are the only player to average more than 1.20 points per game, while Malkin, Ovechkin, and Artemi Panarin are the only other players that have averaged more than 1.10 per game.
Pretty dominant numbers there.