If this were an Olympic year, there is a good chance Sidney Crosby would not make Team Canada. That is if the players were chosen based on merit.
Of course we all know Crosby would be named to the team based on his wonderful and deserved reputation. In fact, Team Canada GM Doug Armstrong said Crosby will be among the first 16 players named to Canada’s roster for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
With with just two goals and six points in his first 12 games, Crosby – who had no points in the Penguins first five games – has not been very Crosby-like this season. This is not an indictment of Crosby, it is the sad reality about the current state of his game. One can safely assume Crosby’s production will increase over time, but at this rate, he is on pace to score 14 goals and 41 points in 82 games.
Numbers don’t always tell the full story, but in this case they are pretty darn close. Crosby failed to register a shot on goal in his first two games this season. Last Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a game in which he was barely noticeable, not only did Crosby not have a shot on goal, he registered no shot attempts.
This is very concerning for a player that has been the best or second best (in a battle with Alexr Ovechkin) for most of his NHL career.
Now when people talk about the NHL’s best player you are more likely to hear the names Jonathan Toews, Steven Stamkos, and Carey Price ahead of Crosby.
“I have seen him play a number of times this season and to be honest, he has not been good,” said a pro scout. “He looks disinterested.”
That was certainly the case against the Maple Leafs, a game in which he had 18:45 ice time. I can honestly say that over the years I have been mesmerized by both Crosby’s skill and work ethic. The temptation is to say, ‘Hey, it’s just one game,’ but the truth of the matter is Crosby has been held pointless in nine of Pittsburgh’s 12 games.
The big question is why? Why is Crosby so off his game?
Have injuries conspired to slow his career down? It happens, you know.
Crosby suffered a hit to the head by David Steckel of the Washington Capitals Jan. 1, 2011 that caused a concussion and some will make the case he has not been the same since. He played just 41 games that season, only 22 the following year and 36 the season after that. Now all of that said, Crosby did lead the NHL in scoring in 2013-14 with 36 goals and 104 points in 80 games so I’m not certain I’m fully buying into injury theory.
Maybe Crosby is simply tired.
Few players have worked as hard on their game in the off-season for so long as Crosby. He is a machine. Though many considered him the best player in the world in his early twenties, Crosby would still pick a part of his game to try to improve upon in the summer.
Maybe he has hit the wall. Or, maybe he’s pissed off.
Perhaps Crosby is sick and tired of busting his butt through the neutral zone looking for a breakout pass and never getting one.
“To be fair to Sid, the Penguins defense can’t get him the puck,” said the pro scout. “The only defenseman they have who can move the puck is Kris Letang and he doesn’t want to pass it. He skates it out of the zone. Crosby is probably frustrated.”
The scary thing is Crosby is only 28 years old. This has to be a blip on the screen, huh?
Crosby is not the only NHL star who is off to a dreadful start to the season. Anaheim’s Corey Perry has one goal and three points in 12 games while teammate Ryan Getzlaf had just one assists in eight games before having his appendix removed.
Crosby is in his 11th season in the NHL and could probably play another 10 years if he desires. Being the mature man he is, Crosby does not try to duck talking about his slow start to the season.
When he met with reporters in Toronto, Crosby said, “I don’t think you can accept not scoring. Just as we have as a team found ways, individually shots are good, but it’s better to have one shot and one goal than five and no goals. You’ve just got to find a way to bury the chances and I think ultimately that’s on me. I’ve got to find a way to bury my chances.”