While everyone has been wrapped up in Evgeni Malkin’s year-long dominance of the point standings, Sidney Crosby has quietly returned to form.
Malkin is deserving of the attention. There’s no doubt about that. But while he has racked up the points and extended his lead over Alex Ovechkin, Crosby has developed chemistry on the top line with Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz — so much so that he has actually been producing more offensively than his league-leading teammate.
He is currently riding a 13-game point streak and playing some of his best hockey of the season. Over those 13 games the Penguins are 8-2-3, earning 19 of a possible 26 points. Crosby was out of the lineup for four straight games during his scoring streak from Feb. 5 through March 3.
As he has surged so has the team. With the playoffs less than a month away, his timing could not be any better.
During his 13-game scoring streak, Crosby has 7 goals and 16 assists, totaling 23 points. He has just two games where he scored more than 2 points — a 2 goal + 2 assist performance against Philadelphia and a 3 assist game against Boston — which makes his nearly 2-point/game average even more impressive.
Crosby has been nothing but consistent, a lot like Malkin has been all season.
You can credit a lot of his success to having talented scoring wingers on either side of him. We saw it happen last year with Marian Hossa on the top line with Sid. Now he has talent on both sides, which might be even more deadly.
Since Crosy’s return to the lineup, which was also his first game of the season with both Guerin and Kunitz, the three have combined to score 10 goals and 13 assists — Crosby: 5 G + 4 A; Guerin: 2 G + 5 A; Kunitz: 3 G + 4 A.
Marian Hossa, Crosby’s linemate after the trade deadline passed last season, tallied just 3 goals and 7 assists during the regular season while in Pittsburgh. Now we must remember that Hossa went on to score 12 goals and add another 14 assists in the playoffs.
But for now, it appears that Sid is better off. So is the team.
The Pens are in the stretch run of the regular season, just five points out of ninth place in the Eastern Conference Standings. They are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games and appear to be on pace to finish as the hottest team in the conference going in to the playoffs.
If that is the case, add to it that Malkin and Crosby are the two most consistent scorers going in to the playoffs. It appears to be an equation that bodes well for a long playoff run.
And judging by the votes you all have given on our latest poll (under ‘Team Info” on the right hand column), the fans believe that to be the case.
What do you think? BE HEARD …
Chris | PPT