With Steven Stamkos Out Indefinitely, Sidney Crosby Will Have New Foes

By Jeff Ekiert
Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel
John E. Sokolowski- USA TODAY Sports

After Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos suffered a broken leg in the 3-0 loss to the Boston Bruins Monday, many tended to look at where Stamkos ranked in the NHL in scoring. Ironically enough, he entered Monday’s game tied with Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby for the top spot.

At this juncture, it would be tempting to scratch Crosby’s name on the Art Ross Trophy especially after the X-rays illustrated the depth of Stamkos’ injury. He will be sidelined indefinitely, and it is a devastating loss to the Lightning and their hopes of a bounce-back season.

With Crosby leading the pack with 23 points, it will be interesting to see who else will give him a run throughout the upcoming months of winter. Sure, if you are in Vegas right now, put the money on him. However, he is by no means running away with it like he was last season before his broken jaw injury.

There have been a few new faces to the top-10 along with some older dogs up to their usual tricks — “hat” tricks, that is. Get it?

Allow me now to take a look at some of the candidates behind Sid the Kid. Yes, it is early, but it is always fun to look at the scoring leaders. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are hanging in the wings as the Anaheim Ducks‘ offense is firing on all cylinders. Getzlaf is having an awesome season leading his Ducks, and is looking forward to facing Crosby and the Penguins next week.

That will be the game of the year. I really like Getzlaf this season and you can guarantee that he will be a force the rest of the way as long as he is healthy. Getzlaf and Crosby are similar by means of importance to their respective clubs. As long as both are showing up on the score sheet, the rest of the team follows. This is called leading by example. Think of it as a chain reaction.

Alex Steen of the St. Louis Blues is not far behind either and sitting pretty as the league leader in goals with 14. New York Islanders captain John Tavares can never be denied as he will win a scoring title before his career is over. Could it be this year?

Washington Capitals forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin are having great years so far with 20 points a piece. And looking a bit further down the list, Patrick Kane could always be a candidate to break out soon; he is only a few points behind as well.

A lot would say Ovechkin is the best bet out of all those mentioned, but remember this: Ovechkin has the tendency to disappear for weeks at a time. Remember last season? His name was in a lot of headlines across the NHL, but not in a good way. Even after being a ghost in the first half of the shortened season, he won the MVP title by default.

But the one guy who could give Crosby a run for his money down the road is Phil Kessel. He only has one goal to his name over the last four games after piling up 10 in the previous four. Kessel is getting his points in chunks so far this season, but at the age of 26, he looks determined on a team that has a good supporting cast.

These are all great players and they all have a shot at winning a scoring title. At the end of the day, Crosby’s chances of winning the Art Ross just got better with the injury to Stamkos. He just may want to keep a close eye on his rear-view mirror. If I had to take a guess, I’m predicting he will win it ahead of Getzlaf, Tavares and Kessel in that order.

Jeff Ekiert is the Pittsburgh Penguins/NHL beat writer for RantSports.com. Like him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @jmekiert and add him to your Google account.

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