Allow us to take an in-depth look at the Pittsburgh Penguins over the past week and analyze how this team has won seven in a row and 12 of their last 13 games. Despite all of the injuries that surround this team, Sidney Crosby has lived up to his title as the best player in the game. The 26-year-old captain is owning the NHL in scoring and leading by example.
During his 10-game scoring streak, Crosby has 18 points (seven G, 11 A) including a three-point afternoon in their 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames Saturday. There is no doubt in the absence of Evgeni Malkin, he is carrying the team.
Ironically enough, when Crosby is out of the lineup for the Penguins, it seems that is when Malkin is at his best. He also rises to the occasion and raises his level of play by a wide margin.
But in the season of giving, Crosby has been finding ways of setting up his linemates with endless opportunities with his tape-to-tape passes and drawing extra attention to himself leaving someone else on the ice wide open. Much like his amazing feed to Chris Kunitz Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild, he is almost guaranteed to make multiple plays that drops jaws around the league every game.
On top of showing up on the score sheet, he is making all of the younger players around him that much better. All of those who were recently called from Wilkes–Barre/Scranton have been motivated and excited to skate alongside Crosby.
“They’ve been in that mode for a while, they’ve been playing so steady,” Crosby said post-game of the young defensemen. “I don’t feel that they’ve changed a whole lot, and they did not look to be too rattled.”
Aside from Crosby and the offense, the younger players on the blueline that Crosby was praising after the game have stepped to the plate with their top four defensemen on the shelf. Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin, Kris Letang and Rob Scuderi have been unavailable to Pittsburgh, meaning the younger studs have been seeing more minutes that they could have dreamed of getting at this point.
“I think we’re playing with a lot of energy,” Crosby said. “We’re keeping it simple and playing to our strengths right now. We’ve got a lot of speed in the lineup and taking the load off our [defensemen] too and make it easier on them and our goaltending has been solid too.”
There is no doubt that Crosby is the front-runner for the Hart Trophy right now. Not because of his league-leading 54 points, but his timely scoring and his ability he has shown several times this year that he can put a 2-0 deficit on his back and turn the tide for this team. It seems as though every time Pittsburgh needs a goal or two, No. 87 is right there and is playing at his very best in 2013-14.