At this juncture of the season last year, pundits and fans alike wondered aloud, “Is Sidney Crosby finished?” His goal-scoring and overall point totals were sloping downward, and his play seemed tentative. Coach Mike Johnston’s defensive posture of play seemed to clamp a vice on Crosby’s freewheeling play that fuels itself on speed, positioning, and creative passing.
Following Johnston’s firing, the Penguins trudged through the growing pains under Mike Sullivan for about a month before they began stringing together wins in late January. As for Crosby, he began shredding opponents once more, racking up the goals and tacking on the assists. He played with a conviction that didn’t wane until he was holding up the Stanley Cup on June 12th, 2016, at the San Jose Sharks’ SAP Center.
That conviction continues to blaze this season. Crosby leads the NHL in goals with 21, and when he can make teams second guess as to whether he’s shooting or passing, it makes him exponentially more difficult to contain. Teams can no longer solely look to take away Crosby’s passing lanes anymore, because he’s now more willing to use his snapshot to make defenders second-guess. Of course, he’ll score most of his goals around the net through deflections and solid positioning, but there are moments now when he’ll fling a wrister from the slot. And that only serves to open up lanes for his linemates Connor Sheary and Patric Hornqvist.
These tendencies are not new developments to Crosby’s game, but what has grown is his willingness to shoot more often. By doing so, his scoring tear this first half of the season harkens back to his MVP caliber season in 2010-2011. This was the season where he was on pace for monumental goal and point totals before he was sidelined with a concussion that put him on the shelf for nearly a year.
And therein lies Sidney Crosby’s restoration. The shadows of 2010-2011 have passed over his head once more in terms of offensive output, and it is most heartily deserved. His bought with post-concussion syndrome and neck injury has always loomed over his shoulders throughout the years with the media and fans, so to see his game get the proper attention and vindication is a moment to consume with delight.
It’s as if the hockey gods have redeemed the time for Crosby, giving him back some of the luster from the snakebitten season of 2010-2011. As a fan and someone whose exposure to Crosby brought him into the game, I’m thankful that the puck is finding his stick. It shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, considering he’s technically in his prime at age 29, but there were always the whispers that the concussions and long miles he’s put it in were going to grind him out of the game.
Instead, he’s having an Hart-worthy season and who knows? If he keeps scoring consistently, fans may see him take the Rocket Richard trophy. Wherever his goal and point totals end up, Penguins fans can relish Crosby’s brilliance while it shines before us every night.
Kevin Cochrane is a writer, college student, and founder of Town Crier. Like what you read? Follow him on Twitter at RunFree_KC, friend him on Facebook, or click the follow button at the bottom of the page to get Town Crier’s latest updates. Want to read more? Visit his blog at restandrefuge.wordpress.com which offers a Christian perspective on the surrounding culture. You can contact him with comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.