Hey, gang. It’s Dan Mount again and I’m back and better than ever.
I first want to thank my good buddy Mike at FanVsFan Network for finding me a new home. I also want to thank my good friend John Canton for giving me a chance to write about hockey in the first place. (Check out TJRWrestling.com)
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For those that are familiar with my work, I often try to fill the void in the summer by taking a look at the players, teams and coaches that have question marks surrounding them for the upcoming season. Today I focus on the reigning Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy winner Sidney Crosby.
Normally, the most valuable player in any league really doesn’t have anything to prove. However, Sid the Kid is a special case.
Crosby had a fantastic regular season and picked up the Hart, Art Ross and NHLPA MVP awards. The Kid picked up 36 goals and 68 assists for 104 points. The Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia native helped the Pens win the Metropolitan Division title and had a good shot at making it to the Stanley Cup Final.
However, that’s when things all went south for Sid. Crosby did make some plays, but he was frustrated by Brandon Dubinsky, who held Crosby goalless in the opening round series against Columbus. The Penguins did eventually triumph, but the Blue Jackets made life difficult in a six-game series.
Sid the Kid would eventually break his goalless drought in game three of second round series against the New York Rangers. The Pens built up a 3-1 series lead, but the wheels came off in the final three games. The Rangers seemingly rallied around Martin St. Louis, whose mother passed away, and held Crosby in check before completing the stunning comeback.
Crosby ended up with just one goal and eight assists in 13 games of action, which is a far cry from his usual point production.
The questions came up immediately after Pittsburgh’s elimination and a lot of the blame was laid on Crosby and his lack of scoring. There were plenty of other reasons why Pittsburgh got drummed out of the postseason like the lack of defense and goaltending in big spots and a failure to win at home. There was no doubt the Penguins didn’t live up to expectations.
The postseason failures led to a housecleaning that led to the firing of longtime General Manager Ray Shero and head coach Dan Bylsma. (Pittsburgh hired former Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford and new coach Mike Johnston.) Rutherford hit the ground running and made some pretty significant changes, including shipping James Neal to Nashville.
But one wonders why The Kid didn’t do more to help the Pens in the playoffs. There have been rumors that Crosby was playing with an injured wrist. That left a bad taste in the mouth of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gene Collier, who called out both the Penguins’ star and the franchise himself:
It would be terrible if the Penguins concealed a Crosby injury throughout these 2014 playoffs.
It would be worse if they have not.
Because if the Captain isn’t hurt, then he simply skated indifferently, fanned on shots, mishandled the puck and was just awful enough to take Dan Bylsma’s team out of these playoffs prematurely. That he will probably take Bylsma’s Penguins career with it, along with perhaps general manager Ray Shero’s, along with who knows whom or what else, all while collecting something just this side of $9 million is more than enough to remove him as the so-called face of the NHL.
Crosby has since decided against having surgery and will get regular treatments and evaluations on the wrist, but could be slowed down by the injury at the beginning of the season. Crosby does have two-plus months to recover, but we don’t know how severe the injury is.
Could there be something other than an injury that’s bothering Sid? Sportsnet analyst Nick Kypreos speculated that fatigue was the thing that was bothering Crosby. Kypreos thought Crosby didn’t have the same power and drive that he usually does.
Keep in mind, Crosby did captain Team Canada to a gold medal in Sochi on top of getting to the conference finals last season. All of those games add up and take a toll on a body. Maybe he was tired on top of being injured. If so, then it could be a major reason that he had a hard time in the playoffs.
There’s no doubt that Crosby is one of the players that makes the Penguins go. However, an injured Crosby could be a problem. That will put more of an onus on Evgeni Malkin to be shoulder the load like he did in postseason. (Especially the trade of Neal.)
However, Crosby is still arguably the best player in the world and regain that scoring form that he’s known for.
Dan Mount is the editor for The Hockey Sentinel and covers the Rangers, Devils and Islanders for NYSportScene.com.