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What’s wrong with Sidney Crosby and his goal scoring?

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy
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(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

There’s only been one stretch of 12 games in Sidney Crosby’s career in which he’s failed to score a goal. It was in 2011-12, a season interrupted by injuries at the start and during the campaign.

Now, there’s another stretch: 12 postseason games, stretching back to 2013, in which Crosby hasn’t tallied a goal. The Penguins are 5-7 in those games, currently down 0-1 to the Rangers.

During that 12-game regular season stretch two years ago, Crosby tallied 17 points. In this playoff goal drought, he’s managed seven points, including six in this postseason. In his last 17 games overall, he has two goals – both of them scored against the Chicago Blackhawks on March 30.

So what’s wrong with Sidney Crosby?

“Sometimes, I think (observers) want the game to be decided just by Sidney Crosby scoring a goal and that hasn’t been the case,” Bylsma said on Saturday, via QMI. “Really, it’s no more than about winning for us and about winning for Sid. We did that in the first round and (on Friday night in Game 1 against the Rangers) we did not. … We are down 1-0 against (the Rangers) and those questions are going to come. From that standpoint, I understand them.”

Here’s what Crosby’s done in his last 12 postseason games:

 

GAME/TOI

ASSISTS

PLUS/MINUS

SHOTS ON

SHOTS BLOCKED

SHOTS MISSED

FACEOFF %

Vs. New York

(5.2.14)

19:36

0

-3

3

2

0

32

At Columbus

(4.28.14)

19:48

1

+1

1

0

3

52

Vs. Columbus

(4.26.14)

19:54

1

0

6

0

5

53

At Columbus

(4.23.14)

18:47

0

-2

3

1

3

64

At Columbus

(4.21.14)

22:20

1

1

3

2

3

43

Vs. Columbus

(4.19.14)

30:34

2

0

4

1

1

38

Vs. Columbus

(4.16.14)

19:39

1

-2

2

2

2

58

At Boston

(6.7.13)

23:05

0

0

4

3

1

42

At Boston

(6.5.13)

35:01

0

+1

3

2

2

55

Vs. Boston

(6.3.13)

23:01

0

-1

2

1

1

44

Vs. Boston (6.1.13)

24:21

0

-2

4

0

2

35

Vs. Ottawa (5.24.13)

19:57

1

0

5

1

1

68

The most common theory: an injury.

Don Cherry, on Coach’s Corner on Saturday night, showed clips of Crosby gliding down the ice on defense that would have had Alex Ovechkin vilified. Grapes thought perhaps a back injury was to blame.

But Hooks Orpik of Pensburgh, during the series vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets, thought there was a chance Crosby might be gassed after carrying the Penguins in an MVP-worthy campaign:

Not only has Sidney Crosby played a lot of games, but he's also played a ton of minutes. Crosby spent a total of 1,757:47 minutes on the ice during the regular season, the most among NHL forwards. At even strength he played 1,374:25, the second most in the league behind Toronto's Phil Kessel, who only averaged 20 seconds more per game than Sid.

Crosby took 1,887 faceoffs in the 2013-14 season, which was almost 100 more than second place and hundreds more than most other top centers around the league. All that concentration, strength and punishment of slashing sticks can also ever-so-slowly add up over each and every game. Especially as the games get more and more important.

But perhaps the answer has to do more with the personnel he’s facing.

In 11 of those 12 games, Crosby’s faced the defensive holy trinity of Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask; he’s faced a bound and determined Brandon Dubinsky and Jack Johnson, his friend off the ice that knew how to effectively ‘D’ him up; and he’s faced Marc Staal, his partner Anton Stralman and Henrik Lundqvist, at least in one game.

He scored 7 goals in the 9 playoff games before this drought.

No doubt you’ve noticed none of these players are Islanders or Senators.

(Against the Rangers this season, Crosby had six points in four games, but only one goal. He’s got one goal in his last 13 regular season games vs. the Rangers.)

The question the Penguins have been attempting to answer during this goal drought: Does it matter if Sid doesn’t put the puck in the net?

He’s got a 59.3 percent corsi for the playoffs, second only to Evgeni Malkin in puck possession. Until his minus-3 against the Rangers, he was plus-1 in goal differential for the postseason. He's not scoring, but until Game 1 he hadn't been a liability while on the ice.

Sid insists he’s not injured. ''You have to make sure you learn from it and make sure you're better in the next one,'' Crosby told the AP. ''You have to get better as the playoffs go on.''

If Crosby can’t find the net, one wonders how long that journey will last for the Penguins.

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