He’s been remarkably durable and consistent. Sidney Crosby scored 89 points in each of the past two seasons and last season, at 30-years-old, he also played all 82 games. Crosby’s 2017-18 output was even more impressive as he and the Penguins were not a great offensive team at 5v5.
The Penguins captain nearly scored 90 points with brute force.
Consider Crosby’s linemates last season: Conor Sheary, Daniel Sprong, Dominik Simon, regular-season Jake Guentzel, and of course some time with Patric Hornqvist. Only Hornqvist had a season which met expectations or was worthy of top-six work, yet Crosby somehow managed to finish as the 10th leading scorer in the NHL.
90 points, again, would be too easy to take the over. Crosby’s near mechanical consistency in the face of shuffling and scuffling linemates makes 90 points the starting point of any discussion. So for extreme players, we’re setting an extreme over/under at 100 points.
Those points between 90 to 100 are increasingly difficult but with the chance to show the hockey world that he’s still the best, and upstage heir apparent Connor McDavid one last time,
Crosby has a career 14.5 shooting percentage, but last season he netted just 11.7 percent. If Crosby takes the same number of shots as last season (247), which was within his typical range, but shoots his average 14.5 percent, he would score seven more goals.
Those additional goals would offset the likely decline in power-play points. Last season, Crosby had 38 power points, which tied a career high, though the Penguins again figure to have a potent man-advantage.
Crosby should also add points as his giveaway total decreases. Crosby gave the puck away 76 times, which was the most since 77 turnovers in 2009-10.
Sidney Crosby Linemates
Crosby’s linemates must finish chances for Crosby to have any hope of 100 points. Last season, sidekick Conor Sheary gripped the stick so tightly, it warped. Sheary had great advanced-analytics but poor statistics. Thus, Crosby’s numbers suffered.
Left wing Jake Guentzel will be key. After a rough sophomore season, Guentzel is poised for a monster year. He and Crosby were dynamic in the playoffs, and each scored 21 points in 12 games. The Philadelphia Flyers porous defense and goaltending aided those stats, but the Penguins duo also helped make Philadelphia look porous.
Guentzel and Crosby will not score at the same 143-point pace as they did in the playoffs but Guentzel’s ability to finish chances should add points to Crosby’s total. Last season, Guentzel failed to complete those chances in the first few months of the season, and Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan eventually shuffled him around the lineup. However, in a contract year, and being a year older with perhaps more perspective on the importance of regular season hockey, Guentzel should break out.
If Guentzel stumbles, there is an interesting cast of characters who could take his place beside Crosby. Dominik Simon saw a considerable amount of time beside Crosby in the second half of the season, both on the left and right wing. Simon is a slippery player with skill, speed, and hockey IQ. The rookie didn’t bury enough chances in his first stint, but as a second-year player, his success rate could improve. Simon is a strong candidate to play on Crosby’s right wing and improve on last year’s numbers.
Daniel Sprong is another interesting player who could add spice to Crosby’s line. Sprong played with Crosby for eight games last season but only earned two goals and one assist. Sprong is in a make-or-break year, and if he breaks out, Crosby could be a beneficiary.
If nothing else, reliable stand-by Patric Hornqvist should also see time with Crosby. Hornqvist’s stationary offensive style doesn’t necessarily mesh as well with Crosby, but the pair has had enough success over the past four years that coaches always have the option of pairing them.
Crosby is unlikely to score 100 points, but PHN has learned to never bet against him. Crosby’s 89 point season with a struggling group was impressive. If players who finish chances and create offense surround Crosby, then the 100 point total is entirely within reach and Crosby could be in the discussion for hockey hardware such as the Hart Trophy and the Art Ross.
It’s all within reach and that makes this season very interesting. Great players always have one more great season left. This could be Crosby’s last best chance to show superiority over McDavid, and the Penguins rival Washington Capitals are the Stanley Cup champs. There will be no shortage of motivation for the Penguins and Crosby.
We’ll take the under but won’t bet too much.