Sidney Crosby controls Pens' Cup fate
With their captain back, Pittsburgh projects as Cup favorites. Without him ...
Sidney Crosby had a half-season for the ages.
Incredibly, Crosby's 32 goals, 34 assists and 66 points still rank him third amongst skaters in our Player Power Rankings, despite the fact that his competition has now played more than 150 percent of his game total. Consider that it's entirely possible that the Pittsburgh Penguins captain may remain among the top 10 skaters on the list even if he doesn't return for another regular-season game. By the measure of Goals Versus Threshold -- our player value metric which accounts for a skater's offensive, defensive and shootout contributions -- if he'd kept up the same pace, Crosby's 36.0 GVT over 82 games would have been the best season for an NHL skater since the lockout, blowing away Alex Ovechkin's 2007-08 (33.1 GVT) and 2009-10 (32.7 GVT) campaigns and Crosby's own 2009-10 (32.0 GVT).
Of course, individual achievement and team success go hand in hand. The Crosby-led Penguins were on fire for the first three months of the season, racking up 55 points and a .671 point percentage through 41 games before hits in consecutive games by Washington's David Steckel and Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman sidelined the Pittsburgh captain with the concussion that he's been struggling to shake since. Not surprisingly, what had looked like a top contender for the Stanley Cup has consequently transformed into a team that's not of playoff caliber without its all-world center. Pittsburgh has a .558 point percentage without Crosby and .526 without both Crosby and Evgeni Malkin -- the Pens lost Malkin for the season after he suffered torn knee ligaments Feb. 4.
The injuries have reduced the Penguins from playing like a first seed in the East to a team that would place 10th -- just ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs (.508) -- if it had to go without Crosby and Malkin the entire season ... thus leaving their Stanley Cup fortunes in doubt.
To read more about how important Sidney Crosby is to the Penguins and whether they can make a Stanley Cup run without him, you must be an ESPN Insider.
We see that you are not an ESPN Insider. Upgrade today and gain access to our exclusive coverage.
MORE NHL HEADLINES
- Bruins' Boychuk 'doing better,' MRI negative
- Ducks win SO, hand Hawks 3rd loss in row
- Rare McElhinney shutout lifts Jackets by Wild
- Predators' Weber back at practice, using visor
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
NHL Insider Content
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
Prospectus: Rating B's, Canucks' depth
CapGeek: Bs, Canucks provide cap blueprints Conn Smythe Watch: Thomas takes the lead
Greenberg: Projecting Tyler Seguin
Greenberg: Lapierre is Canucks' MVP
Prospectus: Special teams aren't that key
Conn Smythe Watch: Kesler's charge
Joyce: Sharks stars lack 'it'
Greenberg: Best Gs vs. the best shots
Conn Smythe Watch: Thomas rises
Button: Philly's crisis of crease confidence
Greenberg: Can blocks carry Bolts to Cup?
Prospectus: Ranking Caps' playoff failure
Prospectus: Top playoff rooks since 1998
Conn Smythe Watch: Roloson No. 1
Prospectus: Datsyuk remains underrated
Conn Smythe Watch: Neuvirth shines
Greenberg: Best D pairs vs. Alex Ovechkin
Prospectus: Thomas doesn't give B's big edge
Prospectus: Playoff team depth rankings
Cooper: Preds try to ditch Rd. 1 jinx
Prospectus: Team-by-team odds to win the Cup
Prospectus: Ranking the first-round netminders
Prospectus: These Sharks built to last
Prospectus: Puck luck could pluck Ducks
Cooper: Why playoff hockey is so different
Team Scouting Reports
How to beat the Boston Bruins
How to beat the Philadelphia Flyers
How to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins
How to beat the Washington Capitals
How to beat the Anaheim Ducks
How to beat the Detroit Red Wings
How to beat the San Jose Sharks
How to beat the Vancouver Canucks
May 11: Why Wings may soon fall off
April 28: Strome surges in Mock Draft 2.0
April 13: Nashville tries to overcome history
April 11: D. Sedin tops final player rankings
April 7: Coaches feeling the hot seat
April 6: How Caps' draft strategy has worked
March 30: Can Flyers win Cup with Bobrovsky?
March 9: Re-ranking Top 50 draft prospects
Feb. 28: Traded prospect evals
Feb. 28: Rating trades in the West
Feb. 28: Rating trades in the East
Feb. 17: Worst. Trades. Ever.
Feb. 17: NHL Mock Draft 1.0
NHL Rumor Central
Get news and rumblings before anyone
NHL Experts Blog
Daily ice shavings of insight
NHL Draft Blog
A look towards June 2011