Ryan Lambert

What We Learned: Sidney Crosby, the most underrated player in NHL

Ryan Lambert
Puck Daddy

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Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.

Think of the three greatest hockey players in the world.

Regardless of who you think ranks where in that top three, and how you feel about him personally, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that Sidney Crosby(notes) doesn't make your list.

Instead, dopes like you, if you're a fan of Alex Ovechkin(notes) or Steven Stamkos(notes) or -- in Alex Semin's case -- Patrick Kane, you are the reason there is sadness in the world, because, "Crosby is now an underrated player," according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The reason for this criminal underrating, obviously, is that Crosby has won just one MVP award since he entered the league five years ago. In that time, he's ranked sixth, first (his MVP year), 31st (when he missed 29 games and still got 72 points), third and second in the league in scoring. He's also been the youngest captain of a Stanley Cup winner and won Olympic gold and become the most well-rounded player in the game. He's also the reason the Penguins will soon be the first team to play in two Winter Classics.

And, because the hockey world doesn't fall all over itself praising his game, building statues to his effervescent mixture of undeniable skill and raw competitive nature, and foreswearing all other hockey names but his, you all just don't properly value the contributions Crosby has made daily to enrich our pitiful lives.

(Coming Up: Lambert addresses his feud with Blue Jackets fans; Komisarek thinks he's still a Hab; Pat Lalime's LOL moment; Marc Savard's(notes) comeback; rethinking the Chris Botta controversy; an odd new Duck; the tremendous Pat Burns tribute; the Pavel Datsyuk(notes) and Henrik Zetterberg(notes) conundrum; Lou Lamoriello's ticking clock; Maple Leafs quiz show; the most underwhelming trade in HF Boards history; and did the Blackhawks run up the score on Vancouver?)

Says Tribune-Review writer Rob Rossi, the author of this wonderfully enlightening piece:

Still, even off to the best goal start of his career (14 in 21 games) and with 10 of the 25 individual multipoint games recorded for a club with a bottom-third power play, Crosby is not the quarter-pole favorite for MVP.

Shocking specificity in the need to find multi-point night stats aside, Rossi raises an interesting point: Crosby has more goals to date than he has through 21 games at any point in his career; so why would we not unanimously vote him MVP if the season ended today?

My theory, and it's only a theory, is that it's because Johnny-Come-Lately flavor of the month fluke chump Steven Stamkos has been in everyone's OPINION, the best player in the NHL this season. I mean, if I had to come up with a reason so obviously stupid and wrongheaded.

Says Rossi of Stamkos, he's "the NHL leader through Friday in goals and points, according to rankings by ESPN.com and USA Today. Those are subject to personal bias -- not that Hart Trophy voting by select members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association eliminates that possibility." Yes that's right, his 19 goals and 34 points through 20 games (as opposed to Crosby's heroic 14 and 33 through 21) are subject to personal bias. Yours, against Crosby, specifically.

What you IDIOTS out there don't seem to understand is that Crosby has eight goals and 18 points in his last eight games! Don't you see now, how wrong you are? Where's your Stamkos now? With just eight goals and 14 points in his last eight games, it should be pretty clear that he isn't fit to hold Crosby's equipment bag.

But not only that! Crosby has also made the players around him better, says Rossi. The reason Marc-Andre Fleury(notes) is playing better now isn't that he almost couldn't play any worse, it's because Crosby publicly supported him. And why Evgeni Malkin's(notes) got 10 points in the last five games. Stamkos hasn't done anything to make the players around him better. That's just a fact.

But you'll soon see that Crosby is not only the greatest player alive, but also the best among those no longer living. In fact, he will also prove himself to be the best player in most other sports as well. He hasn't even been putting out a top effort most nights this season, just to lull you into a false sense of security.

Just wait 'til he turns it on for real. Then you can come crawling back to me with your apologies.

"Steven Stamkos is having the best year in the league right now and that's why Crosby doesn't deserve the Hart Trophy." Don't make me laugh.

What We Learned

Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks acquired Patrick Maroon over the weekend. You'd best remember him as the guy that got kicked off the Adirondack Phantoms three weeks ago for "behavioral issues" and "attitude problems." Good stuff.

Atlanta Thrashers: Ondrej Pavelec(notes) has been pretty decent lately. A 29-save shutout of Washington, at the time the league's points leader, on Friday and then a 28-save 2-1 overtime win over the Islanders, the league's worst team by far, on Sunday. He now has three wins in 11 appearances despite a 1.93 GAA and .939 save percentage.

Boston Bruins: Marc Savard is back practicing with the team and could be ready by December. Of course, he's probably faking it.

Buffalo Sabres: LOLalime. This might be the worst goal allowed of the season.

Calgary Flames: Jarome Iginla(notes) is, at long last, getting it together this season. Six goals and eight points in his last four games. All after a team official told him he wouldn't get traded.

Carolina Hurricanes: There was a bit of controversy over a goal scored against the 'Canes by Chris Kunitz(notes) on Friday, and it took 10 whole minutes for a review to determine whether it crossed the goal line. But it did so well after the whistle had gone, so Paul Maurice was a bit steamed.

Chicago Blackhawks: Important update: Cristobal Huet(notes) is still alive. And the Blackhawks are paying all but $200,000 of his salary.

Colorado Avalanche: It's been an interesting quarter of the season for the Avalanche, if only because they've kept winning even while everyone's been hurt.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Last week, I made the assertion that the Blue Jackets "kind of suck," so when they completed a three-game sweep of the California teams on Saturday, one fellow was happy to remind me of that. And he's right: I was wrong. After all, you can take any small window of performance to prove a team is either very good or very bad. That's just science. I mean, when has future nine-time Vezina winner Mathieu Garon(notes) ever given us any reason to suspect he can't sustain a 1.08 GAA and a .960 save percentage for a whole season?

Dallas Stars: James Neal(notes) has rediscovered his scoring ability. Three goals in his last two games after getting just one in his last 10. Dallas really needs more of that.

Detroit Red Wings: Mike Babcock kept Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on separate lines in the first two periods on Sunday, and Calgary jumped out to a 3-1 lead. Then he put them together in the third, and Detroit won in overtime behind -- guess what! -- five combined points for Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Note to Babcock: keep 'em together to win more easily.

Edmonton Oilers: So Devan Dubnyk(notes) turns in a 39-save performance against Phoenix, but loses 4-3 in a shootout on Friday. Says Oilers coach Tom Renney of the night, "I'd give him a B-plus (against the Coyotes). You have to leave a little room to get better." I mean come on. Compared with what Nikolai was giving the team, 39 saves in a 4-3 shootout loss is an A-plus-plus-plus-plus-plus-plus-plus. Plus.

Florida Panthers: Stephen Weiss(notes) left Saturday's game with a re-aggravated ankle injury, but he's not expected to miss any time. In fact, he would've returned to the game if they weren't up 4-1 against a terrible Islanders team when he got hurt.

Los Angeles Kings: The Kings blew a 3-0 lead in Boston but won in the sixth round of the shootout on Saturday. L.A. hasn't lost in Boston since 2002, which is a scary-sounding stat until you consider it's only been four games, three of which have gone to overtime.

Minnesota Wild: The Wild aren't so hot in the second period. In their past two games, they've been outshot 35-7 in the middle frame. And 216-149 for the season. That's 11.4-7.8, on average. And that's poor.

Montreal Canadiens: What a frickin' pass by Mike Komisarek(notes) to set up this Mike Cammalleri goal. Oh, they're not on the same team? Oh my.

Nashville Predators: The Preds have won four of their last five, and three of those have been in shootouts. You can go ahead and ask last year's Coyotes how much that helps secure a playoff spot. Answer: Very.

New Jersey Devils: Lou Lamoriello on his team's 5-13-2 start through 20 games: "Right now the focus is on the parts of our game and the communication and we're all talking. Quite frankly, I have more questions right now than I have answers." Oh, see that's interesting because I assumed he knew exactly what the problem is and was simply electing not to fix it.

New York Islanders: Y'know, originally I didn't agree with the Islanders that Chris Botta made the story about himself -- and indeed, the team made it about him by banning him from games -- but that sure as hell doesn't mean the guy's not milking the absolute hell outta the situation. He's not just burning the bridges, he's nuking them from orbit.

New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist(notes) having a rather unLundqvisty season, no? He's given up three goals or more in nine of his 15 starts this year.

Ottawa Senators: New lines for the Sens on Monday night against the Kings. Chris Kelly(notes) (3-3-6 in 20 this year) on the top line! What could possibly go wrong?

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Philadelphia Flyers: Brian Boucher(notes) got the nod over Sergei Bobrovsky(notes) on Saturday and won over the Capitals in a shootout. It was Boucher's first start since Oct. 25.

Phoenix Coyotes: The Coyotes have won six on the trot now, four of which were on the road. They'd lost four of their prior five. Heckuva turnaround.

Pittsburgh Penguins: More Sid news -- He is very mischievous. I only link it because it's a hell of a good story.

San Jose Sharks: Danny Boyle wasn't happy about getting shut out in Columbus. "I can only speak for myself, but my legs weren't there, my hands weren't there. No matter how much you want or try, it just didn't come together," he said.

St. Louis Blues: Devils call-up Mike McKenna(notes) got the start in St. Louis, which is his hometown. His dad, Terry, is the Blues' official scorer. "It was suggested that maybe I shouldn't work the game," the elder McKenna said. I hope Terry sent the new scorer a bunch of emails angrily scolding his fill-in for not giving his kid more saves. There would be nothing wrong with that. It's locker-room talk.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Both Mike Smith(notes) and Dan Ellis(notes) are trying to earn Guy Boucher's love. No truth to the rumors Ellis bought his coach a rocket car made of solid gold to get a couple extra starts.

Toronto Maple Leafs: From Pension Plan Puppets comes a video of a quiz show in England in which contestants choose their area of expertise. For some reason, this guy picked the Leafs. There is an audible sigh when he answers the question of when they last won a Cup.

Vancouver Canucks: Alain Vigneault wasn't happy that the Blackhawks tried to run up the score on the Canucks Saturday. Not that he didn't get it. "(It was) 6-0 and they throw their No. 1 power-play unit when it's five-on-three," he said. "They have every right to do that. They did it. They were pushing it, and they did." By the way, that "top unit" looked suspiciously like the second unit since it featured Viktor Stalberg(notes) and Nick Boynton(notes).

Washington Capitals: Bruce Boudreau is worried about the Caps' game against the Devils on Monday night. If they're not careful, they might only win by three.

Gold Star Award

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Lambert's a giant Flames homer alert: Jarome Iginla wins this since he had five goals and six points in two games.

Minus of the Weekend

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Raffi Torres(notes) was a minus-3 on Saturday against Chicago. The next night, he turned in a minus-2 game against the Coyotes. That's a minus-5 in just 22:40 of ice time.

Play of the Weekend

Great, great, great great great tribute video to Pat Burns at the Centre Bell on Saturday.

Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week

User "Blackhawkswincup" has the least exciting trade proposal in HFBoards history.

To Maple Leafs

Bruins 7th round pick

To Hawks

RW Mikhail Stefanovich(notes)

You might know Stefanovich if you've been keeping up with the AHL's regular healthy scratches.

Signoff

I don't know why Harvard even bothers to show up. It barely even won.

Ryan Lambert publishes hockey awesomeness rather infrequently over at The Two-Line Pass. Check it out, why don't you? Or you can email him here and follow him on Twitter if you so desire.

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