Tag Archives: Sidney Crosby

Career Timeline of Sidney Crosby

I figured I’d take out an introduction paragraph here to talk about what I am going to write about in this series. I plan on doing one of these every week until I finally get through the entire Penguins roster, Barring any changes. (Shoutout to Jim Rutherford, make some moves buddy). I plan on covering the significant details of each players careers, from the day they were born until the date their piece was written. I hope to give everyone a little insight into each player’s stories and better inform everyone on the players we hold so near and dear to our hearts. This will likely be a one-time introduction, just for this piece. This will also be the only time I talk in the first person throughout the series. That is it for my little preamble, now stay tuned for the rest of the timelines to come out. Now, without further adieu, a timeline of Sidney Crosby’s career.

Sidney Crosby was born a winner. Born on the seventh of August in the year 1987. Yes, that is eight, seven, 87. That is his jersey number we all know. It is the most recognizable number in hockey, (currently, that is, everyone knows number 99). He was born to Troy and Tina Crosby and grew up in the town Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia where he is revered. The welcome sign to the town even mentions his name. This is where his infamous basement of his childhood home can be found, where he would stay in the basement all day shooting pucks into his mother’s clothes dryer. At the young age of three years old, he learned to skate. Then, it began.

In his early years of his hockey career he dominated. Crosby was so dominant that he was allowed to play up in the leagues for older children, and even there he ruled the ice. He would go on to play for Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). It wouldn’t take him long to make a name for himself there. In his CHL debut, he scored eight points in an exhibition game. In his first regular season game, he scored a goal and added two assists. His time in Rimouski would launch him into hockey superstardom. He would be touted as the next Wayne Gretzky, who is to this day widely regarded as the greatest hockey player to ever live. He was so dominant in fact that he was instantly locked to be the first overall pick. Crosby would, in fact, be the first overall pick in his draft, and will change the course of that team’s history.

The NHL season prior to Crosby’s draft year had been canceled after the lockout had gone on too long. The Pittsburgh Penguins were in shambles. Mario Lemieux had been retired, and a few years prior they had traded away Jaromir Jagr. The Penguins had been launched into mediocrity and the franchise would suffer for it. Every year they had been threatened to move to a wide variety of different cities. Lots of cities wanted to make a name for themselves in the hockey world and targeted bringing the Penguins to their city. The Penguins needed something that would bring them out of their hole. Then Lemieux came again to save the day, but this time not on the ice. He would purchase partial ownership of the Pittsburgh Penguins and promised to keep the team in the city that it calls home.

The 2005 NHL Draft lottery leading up to the actual NHL Draft was known as the ‘Sidney Crosby sweepstakes’. The team that would get the envelope containing the first overall pick would surely take Sidney Crosby and their team would be changed forever. Everyone knew he was going to be great and there was no evidence to say otherwise. As we all know now, Sidney Crosby would be drafted first overall by the Penguins.

Crosby had to share his rookie year with the first overall pick of the previous draft and another generational talent in Russian Alex Ovechkin, who had been drafted by the Washington Capitals, another team in shambles looking to reassert themselves in the hockey world. Unfortunately, Ovechkin stole the rookie of the year title, scoring four more points than Crosby did. Crosby broke the one hundred point barrier in his first season in the NHL and nearly had himself a forty goal season, falling one goal shy of that mark. Crosby would be selected to the all-rookie team.

Flash forward to next season and Crosby’s launch into superstardom would be complete. In just his second year in the league, he would score a total of 120 points in 79 games. That total put him at the top of the league, securing an Art Ross trophy, the first of his career. His performance would also earn him his first Hart Trophy for the league’s MVP. He led the Penguins to their first playoff appearance since 2001.

One year later the Penguins, led by Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and a great supporting cast, found themselves in the Stanley Cup Final in a showdown against a veteran-filled roster of the Detroit Red Wings. The series would prove to be exciting, but disappointing for Crosby and the Penguins who would be ousted by the Red Wings in six games.

That Cup Final would prove so exciting, they wanted to do it again. Following the almost completely successful year, the Penguins fought tooth and nail to get a second shot against the Red Wings. The two teams met yet again in the Stanley Cup Final, and Penguins would get the better of the veteran Red Wings this time. The Red Wings fell in a full, action-packed seven-game series, which saw Evgeni Malkin take home the Conn-Smythe trophy for Final MVP.

The next seven years of Crosby’s career were filled with injuries and playoff disappointment. Crosby was sidelined with two concussions that basically knocked two years out of his career. He missed significant time for many years and the Penguins struggled because of it. It was disappointing. People began to question Crosby’s legacy and whether or not he could ever be the greatest player in the league again. He was labeled a coach-killer, which didn’t make much sense as he’s only had four coaches since 2006. Then, significant moves by the new general manager would change the course of Crosby’s career.

On December 16, 2016, Mike Sullivan was hired as the new Penguins head coach. The players quickly responded after a disappointing start to the 2015-16 season which saw them sitting outside looking in on the playoff race. It was a shocking turnaround and the Penguins exploded and finished second in the Metropolitan Division. There were many other moves besides the coach, but it is widely regarded as the largest of the moves.

In June of 2016, Crosby and the Penguins found themselves to be yet again in the Stanley Cup Final. This time against a hungry San Jose Sharks, who were looking for their first Stanley Cup victory in their franchise’s history. The Penguins continued the dominance they showed in the second half of the regular season and entire playoffs and rolled over the Sharks in six games. Crosby finally got his second ring and took home his first Conn-Smythe trophy.

Flash forward a year. Crosby is fresh off a Stanley Cup win and a World Cup of Hockey Championship with Canada, which he also earned MVP of that tournament. The Penguins demolished their competition all the way up to the Stanley Cup Final again, this time against another team searching for their first championship, the Nashville Predators. The Predators gave the Penguins their all, but it takes a lot to stack up against the sheer raw talent all throughout the Penguins roster. The Penguins dropped the Predators in six games, and Crosby took home another Conn-Smythe trophy for his ever-growing hardware collection.

Let us not forget Crosby’s two iconic gold medal victories with team Canada in the Olympics in Vancouver, 2010 and Sochi, 2014. He scored what is referred to as the “golden goal”. Which is the name used for the goal he scored in overtime against the United States in 2010 to secure a gold medal for Team Canada. Without a doubt, if there was an MVP trophy for the Olympics, Crosby would have received it certainly.

It is now time to look ahead for Sidney Crosby. He is only 30 years old and has plenty of years ahead of him, and so do the rest of his teammates who share the same passion and drive as Crosby. It is entirely possible that he will add more hardware to his collection. All Penguins fan hope that his success will continue for many years to come and that Crosby’s young, but storied career will continue to grow in prominence.

Advertisements

The Best and Worst of The Penguins in One Night

On Sunday night, the Penguins won a rollercoaster of a game against the Boston Bruins 6-5 in overtime. The Bruins were fresh off a 7-1 victory in Boston against the Carolina Hurricanes, a team that the Penguins just can’t seem to figure out. This game had potential to be very good and very bad and we got exactly that. The best (and worst) of both worlds.

The first period is a prime example of how this game was being pulled every which way. Bruins score 1:51 into the frame because the Penguins defense continue to forget that leaving people in front of your net is a bad thing and usually results in more bad things.

Ryan Spooner gets his 4th of the year and we’re in for a treat. A couple minutes later the Penguins are cycling well down low, which was one of the exceptionally good portions of their game Sunday, and work it up to the hockey form of a stone giant in Jamie Oleksiak who nets his 3rd of the year on a shot Tuukka Rask probably should have stopped.

The Penguins get a powerplay and Phil Kessel gets a feed from Sidney Crosby and is given more than 0.001 seconds to shoot and that’s never good for the opposing team. The powerplay king scores his 18th of the year and continues to lead the league in powerplay points. Kris Letang scores to add on and the Penguins go into the first period up 3-1.

Pretty good start right? Well this is where I would describe the hockey as being bad. Very bad, very quickly.

In no way was this Tristan Jarry‘s best night. He didn’t get much help on defense as Boston scores 4 goals on 7 shots in the second period and the Penguins are handling the puck like a live hand grenade. Turnovers were handed out like candy on Halloween.

Then something that hasn’t happened virtually all year happened. The Penguins have been having trouble scoring goals when they need them. For example, when you’re being bombarded with shots and you can’t generate much offense, the best defense against that is a goal to stop the bleeding. The Penguins were awarded another powerplay and desperately needed a goal to end this atrocious period. Sure enough, Sid, to Evgeni Malkin, to the back of the net and the second period ends 5-4.

Third period starts and the Penguins seem to be buzzing. Play is really going both ways when Riley Sheahan catches a break and gets a step on Boston’s D. Another shot Rask should have stopped but they don’t ask how, they ask how many.

At this point the hockey has plateaued. Then Brad Marchand gets loose. Marchand gets slashed. Marchand gets a penalty shot. Did I mention Matt Murray is now in net? Murray stops Marchand and eventually we go to overtime.

Overtime was incredibly one sided. Penguins possessed the puck almost the entire time with Boston continually on their heels defensively. Finally Kessel busts into the zone with speed and after a few quick passes with Malkin, Geno buries it and everyone goes home happy.

This was the best I’ve seen the Penguins play and the worst I’ve seen the Penguins play. Daniel Sprong does in fact need defensive development. Shocker. I thought those scouts were lying the entire time. Crosby is returning to form. Malkin went nuts offensively but was incredibly lazy defensively. Goaltending on both sides was subpar besides Murray.

As I said, it was the best and the worst of the Penguins all in one night.

COLUMN: Things Are Beginning To Click

The Penguins took down the Islanders on Thursday evening and what a big win it was. They gave the Islanders a point, something that doesn’t look good now but will be meaningless in the long run if things continue the way they are.

The guys are clicking right now. Even despite the loss of Justin Schultz to a lower body injury, they were able to scratch out the 4-3 overtime win and pretty much dominated the game statistically.

I’m just going to provide some bullet points and you can stop me when I’m wrong.

-The special teams was a perfect 100% on Thursday. The Penguins were able to eek out two power play goals, Phil Kessel and Jake Guentzel being the culprits. The Penalty Kill, on the other hand, was sensational. “I thought our penalty kill was great tonight,” Sullivan said. They truly were. It seemed they had more of a willingness to block shots and Tristan Jarry did a good job stopping the shots that did get through to him.

-Both Guentzel and Kessel are absolutely killing it in terms of scoring. Guentzel scored his 13th tonight ad is on pace for 36 goals. Will he get there? We’ll see. I think he reaches 30 on the year and no one is going to complain about that. Kessel is playing some of the best all-around hockey of his career. I predicted at the beginning of the season that he would have 80 points this year. He’s got 14 goals and 35 points in 30 games. At this pace, he’ll hit 80.

-Did the Penguins really lose their starting goaltender? You wouldn’t know it if you are just tuning into the Penguins season. Jarry has been sensational in the absence of Matt Murray and has done everything you could ask and more. The Penguins were worried about Jarry’s development if he was riding the bench in Pittsburgh but he has been great in injury relief. 5-1-0 with a 2.39 GAA and a .921 SV%? I will sign up for those numbers every time.

Matt Hunwick was the most unlikeliest of heroes in this game. In 3-on-3 overtime, anything can happen. After being stoned by Jaroslav Halak just seconds before potting the game winner, Hunwick had been playing in overtime mainly due to the Schultz injury. He’s never had more than six goals in a season in his career. It’s unlikely he will reach that this season. But Hunwick isn’t as bad as some of the fans portray him. He’s been solid, he just isn’t flashy.

That’s only a few points that can be made. Sidney Crosby is back on top of his game. Patric Hornqvist has been a menace all year long. The list goes on and on.

The team did lose Tom Kuhnhackl for the final period due to injury. They are already thin in the bottom-six and it looks like Greg McKegg will be back in Pittsburgh if Kuhnhackl misses any time. They did give a point to the Islanders which now means that spots 1-5 in the Metropolitan are separated by one point. But if that’s the worst news to come out of the game to, can you be mad?

Jarry shut down one of the youngest and hottest teams in hockey right now for 55 minutes. He had a little blip late in the game but kept it together enough to send it to overtime. That’s the maturity of a veteran goaltender. He’s making huge saves and helping win games before he’s even had 10 at the NHL level.

The Penguins are winners of 5 of their last 6 and have some winnable games coming up on the schedule. While every game is tough, there is no excuse this team can’t win more games and try and break away from the Metropolitan Division pack.

Penguins’ Improvement At 5-on-5

When you work hard, eventually you get rewarded. As much as it’s hard to keep believing this when you’re not getting the bounces, it proves itself true time and time again.

After slumping offensively by Pittsburgh standards for most of the season, Penguins players up and down the roster are finally being rewarded in spades.

Sidney Crosby‘s non-controversial goal on November 24th against Boston explains a lot about the scoring mentality the Penguins possess.

He used his magic hands to knock the puck out of midair, then stayed with it as it landed on goaltender Anton Khudobin‘s stomach. With surgical precision under pressure, he cleanly flicked the puck from stomach to net with a will to score that wouldn’t be denied.

This will continue to be transmitted throughout that locker room and everyone is benefitting. While they may have been struggling to finish chances, this desire has never waivered.

I know it’s hard to think of an NHL player as not wanting to score, but it’s all about appearances. Does a player always have his stick on the ice in the dirty areas? Does a player shoot and then turn away, or shoot and then follow the shot to the net? Does a player ever take a chance that the puck will squirt by a defender and cheat to the weak side knowing full well that if it doesn’t he’ll be caught out of position?

Some players just don’t have offensive awareness. Some players just don’t compete for those loose pucks. That’s what makes guys like Patric Hornqvist, for example, so special. He’s in the net just as often as the puck is, and if you think everyone wants to score as much as he does think about why we miss him so much when he’s out of the lineup.

Then we have to look at Bryan Rust. It’s always fun to see someone streak in on a breakaway, pick his spot, and snipe it first try. What’s more exciting is the breakaway goal Rust scored against Philadelphia. He blocked a shot, which is awesome enough. Then he won a battle up the ice, fighting off the defender to win a scoring chance. The most positive thing of all is how even though he didn’t get everything on his shot, he followed up and stuck with it long enough to take that little extra stab. He ended up knocking it in with the shaft of his stick. Had he not had the will to score, the desire to follow that puck through, it would have been just another missed opportunity for someone who didn’t do everything possible to try and score.

Hornqvist got one off the shaft of his stick in the same period, simply by never giving up on the puck. Jake Guentzel then tied the game with 1:04 left by making sure he did everything he could to get some kind of touch. It went off his body and in.

Earlier in the year, the grittiness was missing. Over the past two weeks it’s been building but not producing. Now it’s finally balancing out. Those aren’t lucky bounces. Those are payments earned.

Pens On Verge of Offensive Outbreak

The Penguins can only not be the Penguins for so long.  They’ve surprisingly had struggles scoring goals all season, especially at even strength.  They rank 19th in the NHL in goals per game, which is very un-Penguin-like.

Well you are witnessing the end of the offensive drought.  The Penguins are back.

The Penguins have scored 5 goals in each of their last 2 games, which is a small sample size, but it has significance:

The first of these 2 games came against the Tampa Bay Lightning, arguably the hottest team in hockey along with St. Louis.  Although their starting goaltender, Andrei Vasileskiy, was not manning the crease for the Lightning, the Penguins were starting their backup, Tristan Jarry, in the tail-end of a back-to-back scenario.  The Penguins not only won this game, but put an exclamation point on the win.  They were clearly the better team throughout the game, and it showed on the scoreboard.

The second of these 2 games was against the Philadelphia Flyers who, despite not having a great season thus far, always show up against the Penguins.  In addition, they unfortunately own the Penguins at Consol/PPG Paints, so a win was far from automatic.  Not only did the Penguins score 5 goals in this game, but they battled back on multiple occasions by erasing 3-1 and 4-3 deficits.

The defense absolutely still needs improvement.  They have been over-aggressive in the offensive zone and thus allowing opponents to have way too many odd-man chances.  That said, their offense is starting to show signs of life.  More importantly, the scorers are starting to score, and the Penguins are beginning to get some scoring from their depth guys:

After a rough start, Bryan Rust has looked fantastic in his past couple of games and has netted a couple of goals as a reward for his play.  I thought the line of him, Carter Rowney, and Carl Hagelin played extremely well against the Flyers.  They had multiple extended shifts and kept Philly pinned in their own end.

Jake Guentzel has 7 goals in his last 8 games, confirming that he is a pure goal-scorer when he is on his game. Guentzel had a rough start to the season, but he is starting to find his groove and regaining his confidence going into early December. Look for Guentzel to continue what he has been doing his past few games.

Phil Kessel has been straight up unbelievable.  He is tied for 4th in the NHL in points, and he leads the Penguins in every offensive category.  He is having an MVP-caliber season if he continues his play.  He has become the cornerstone of the Penguins power play, and has found his scoring touch as well.

Remember when Sidney Crosby died?  Again?  Yeah, he’s fine.  Dominating Philly, scoring OT winners, and scoring 9 points in his last 4 games, including 6 in his last 2.  He is going to be okay, and now that he has found his game, look out.  Remember what happened last time Crosby fell off the face of the earth?  It just might happen again…

Oh, and not to mention, the Penguins have scored 5 in their past 2 games without Evgeni Malkin, who will hopefully be back soon.

The Penguins are now done with the most difficult part of their schedule.  They play Buffalo in a home-and-home series this coming weekend which leads into a 5 game homestand.

The Penguins are on the verge of an offensive outbreak: it starts now.

Kessel Picking Up Crosby Production

In a season where the Penguins scoring has been consistently inconsistent, America’s favorite sweetheart, Phil Kessel, has been there to carry them. He’s providing a much needed jolt of point production.

Kessel’s hot start could not have came at a better time as the Penguins have seen a dip in goals scored by their star leader, Sidney Crosby.

Now hold your horses, Crosby has not lost his touch or declined in a play. He’s suffered from the negative side of what we here in the business call “puck luck”. Crosby has just had some bad puck luck, but he’s playing the right way and the goals will come.

The same thing happened about 2 or 3 seasons ago when everyone pointed out that Crosby wasn’t scoring. He ended up top 5 in points that year.

Matter of fact, the floodgates might have just been opened now that he scored Tuesday night. Let’s get back to the matter at hand though, and that’s Phil Kessel.

Most teams would suffer heavily from a lack up scoring from their best player. The Penguins should be no different, but Kessel has stepped up to the plate and delivered some of his best play during his stay as a Penguin.

Don’t believe me? Kessel is averaging the highest points per game of his career right now, not just as a Penguin, but in his entire career! Think about that, he doesn’t even have to be the top guy like he was on other teams, and yet he’s scoring like he is.

Kessel is 6th in the NHL in points, and it’s no mistake why he’s a top of that list. I can even think of a reasons because.

-He’s comfortable knowing his role. I know it’s his 3rd year here already but after moving around a couple lines, he know’s when to give and take, figuring out what’s best for business. This includes his role on the power play.

-I really think his relationship with Ryan Reaves has helped leaps and bounds for this team. I’m not exactly sure as to why, but when you just hit it off away from the ice the way these two have, it affects you on the ice.

They have a dynamic duo feel about them, partners in crime from your favorite movie. Like a Scooby Doo and Shaggy, Wayne and Garth, or SpongeBob and Patrick vibe. From playing basketball to playing pranks on road trips, the camaraderie has helped.

-The chemistry he has now with Evgeni Malkin is uncanny. You can’t measure how well these 2 have meshed this season. After throwing them on a line 2 seasons ago, things didn’t workout, but this year is a different story, and it’s benefitting both greatly.

Leaps and valleys always occur, but if Kessel can maintain his rapid production while Crosby is now about to go on his tear, the Penguins are not to be reckoned with. Though they haven’t been at their best yet, Phil Kessel has.

P.S.

Everyone needs this shirt.

COLUMN: You Can’t Stop The Force, You Can Only Contain It

We’ve been blessed to shift from the Mario Lemieux era right into the Sidney Crosby era. Ever since Crosby joined the league, he’s been one of the most dominant players in the game even in an era where it is considerably harder to score.

Despite an 11-game goal-less drought, Crosby looked as determined Tuesday night as he had in weeks. The drive to change his hard luck was evident beyond belief. He ended that slump in a big way.

“I just found the open area, hung out backdoor and he found me.”

That was linemate Conor Sheary after his goal 16 seconds into overtime in Tuesday night’s contest. We watched as Crosby dominated below the goal line in a way only Crosby seems to be able to do. He was followed down low by Sabres forward Evander Kane and, despite Kane’s attempt to pin Crosby to the boards, Crosby squirmed out, cut to his right and did exactly what Sheary expected Crosby would do. If you don’t believe me or want to see it again, here you go:

 

In any other year, that wouldn’t be too significant. Of course, it was an incredible “Vintage Crosby” move we have seen a million times over that we marvel over again and again. This year, it almost seemed like it was destined.

When a tornado comes through a town, you can’t stop it. It’s simple Mother Nature. You can contain the damage, though, by taking necessary precautions. Teams have found a way to keep him contained. Even Crosby himself just hadn’t really been that tornado we’ve seen for his years in Pittsburgh. Last night, he proved you can’t completely stop it.

Early in the game, Phil Kessel threw a nice cross-crease pass that Crosby has buried standing right next to the goalie for years. He whiffed on one last night that he undoubtedly wants back.

“That was a tough one,” Crosby said. You’re trying to pick it up through the guys feet. Most times, you find a way to get your stick on it but sometimes you miss it and it goes off your foot…Yeah it’s tough when they’re not going in but there has been some really good chances the last few games and hopefully now they’ll start to go in.”

Crosby isn’t a dumb hockey player. He knows that when slumps are busted and you’re a star of the magnitude of his, they usually breakout in a huge way. We’ve seen it before and we will surely see it again this season and maybe as soon as Thursday.

Surely enough, it went in later in the game when they needed it the most. Down 3-2 in the second, Crosby found a rebound from a Kessel shot and roofed it with every intention of making sure that puck found the twine:

“You’re happy to see it go in the net,” Crosby said. “There were a few more I probably could have had tonight. As long as they’re there, hopefully they’ll go in a little bit more now.”

Translation: They’re going to go in because I’m Sidney freakin’ Crosby but I’m too humble to admit it.

Hockey is so much more fun when Sidney Crosby is playing like the NHL’s best player. He hasn’t been that so far to this point in the season. Last night, Vintage Crosby came back and so did the Penguins.