I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if anyone in sports deserves the moniker of king it should be Sidney Crosby.
Crosby ever since he entered the league has stared greatness, high expectations and unreal challenges in the face and still has not flinched.
Rebuild a former champion into a perennial contender? Yep, done that. Return Canadian hockey to Olympic glory? Piece of cake. Contend for the scoring title each year while being one of the best leaders in hockey? I mean duh.
Sure we’ve had moments where it has been easy to point out Crosby’s shortcomings. He flops, complains a little to much to the referees, continuously takes cheap penalties, and there was that point during the Penguins firs Stanley Cup run where he missed significant time due to injury and the team didn’t miss a beat thanks to the play of Evgeni Malkin. However, all Crosby does is raise his game play to new heights when his team needs it no matter the situation.
Take a look at his recent stretch of play that has him at the top of the points standings, the head of the MVP race and the Penguins looking like the best team in the NHL.
17 games ago the Pittsburgh Penguins were a mess. They were fourth in the division after a mediocre start, Marc-Andre Fleury was terrible in net, the defensive lines were in disarray, Jordan Staal went down with a broken hand that is healing slower than molasses and Geno Malkin has been slowed by a bum knee which has knocked his production way down past what we expect from him.
So what does Sid the Kid do? Oh you know, have a 17 game point streak with 35 total points (20 goals, 15 assists). Lead the team to a 14-2-1 record over that time where they sit atop not only the Eastern Conference but also the entire NHL with the 5th best offense and the 3rd best goals against average. Steven Stamkos lead the league in goals and points at that time, he’s now second in both categories (behind by 5 goals and 10 points), The L.A. Kings were the league’s best team they’re now 5th in their own conference staring tenth in the face. Yep, what a difference a month and a player can make.
Crosby is playing out of his mind right now. He’s the only player on his team with ten goals, he’s got 26. His play has helped bring out the best in his supporting cast that’s trying to weather life without Staal and an ineffective Malkin. Kris Letang has emerged as a legitimate Norris trophy contender, Chris Kunitz looks great playing next to Crosby on his line and is recapturing some of the pop he had when he was in Anaheim. Crosby’s leadership and play have helped to hide Pittsburgh’s thin bench and lack of talent on the wings and has them in a position to be the front-runner in the Eastern Conference.
Crosby and company have knocked off playoff contenders Vancouver, Tampa, Atlanta and the Rangers and have done so convincingly. He’s playing like the man that won the league MVP in only his second year in the league and has shed the image that he’s not a big goal scorer like Stamkos or Alex Ovechkin, Crosby is in another world right now. His vision, skill and predatory instincts are greater than anyone’s in the game and the Pens are reaping the benefits of it all and look like a cup contender.
Question is can it continue? The Pens stretch does get tougher with the Rangers, Flyers, Caps and Habs all calling in the next month including the nationally televised Winter Classic from Heinz Field against the Caps.
The road gets tougher, but with a guy like Sid the Kid on your side you cant worry too much. He’s the headman for the league’s MVP award with only Stamkos in any view of him and it aint even close. Crosby is taking a team that is ordinary at best and is making them extraordinary by lifting them onto his back and taking chare in leading them towards a playoff march and a possible Stanley Cup.
If Crosby continues on this pace and Malkin can somehow get healthy (and if they can keep Fluery’s head on straight) the Pens are going to be a huge problem whether they lose again or not.
We tend to throw monikers around like hotcakes, Prince this, King that, he’s great, blah blah blah… one thing is for sure one man that deserves to have a moniker thrown his way is Crosby. He has been a savior, become a king and is leading his soldiers into battle and is taking on the grunt of the load himself. The man can do it all, so once again repeat after me once again… his name is King Crosby. Get used to it, put it in your brain, make a t-shirt out of it because it should, and hopefully will, stick.