Scoreless Crosby, Pens Power Play and This & That by @ChicksDigHockey - PensInitiative | Pittsburgh Penguins Blog | Rumors | News

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Scoreless Crosby, Pens Power Play and This & That by @ChicksDigHockey

Dave Sandford/Getty Images
* If you’re keeping track, Stamkos has played 6 games and has 5, Jamie Benn and Tyler Segin have both played 5 and have 8 each, Jagr has played 5 games and has 7. What am I talking about? NHL Points scored so far this season, of course. Why am I talking about them? Because after 5 games played, Sidney Crosby has zero points and just 7 SOG.  It’s only the second time in his career he's gone 5 games in a row without a point.

Why even care? Because Crosby has won two scoring titles, led the NHL in points per game in each of the past five seasons and, well…..Kessel (i.e. a winger for Sid). Didn’t we all drool at the signing of Phil Kessel? Didn’t we all imagine the beautiful plays? Kessel to Crosby, or Crosby to Kessel, and always puck in net? 

It just hasn’t happened. Sid seems to be physically fine. He goes to the corners and uses his body to defend. He just isn't shooting. While offense is down all across the league, it’s hard to swallow that in 300 minutes of hockey, Crosby hasn’t even recorded an assist.

 Elliotte Friedman was on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 on Monday morning and had this to say about Crosby:
“You know, I have to tell you – honestly, the thing that stood out to me the most on Saturday night – and I don’t know how carefully you were watching the game – but there was a shot of Sidney Crosby sitting there on the bench and he looked morose. Just stressed out. Morose. And there was nobody sitting next to him........
“And you know what. Some of it I think is the organization. At the very top of that organization I think they create a very tense environment and it goes down from there.
“But Crosby, he needs somebody there who can just say to him, ‘I know it sucks. I know you want to get points. I know you want to help the team win. But you can’t look like that. You’ve got to loosen up.’
“And it’s better for him too because you can’t – it’s very hard to be any kind of a productive human being when you’re that stressed out.
“So the thing I took the most out of that game – is he is just in a terrible mental place right now....."
Sidney Crosby has suffered from concussions (and the hell of post-concussion syndrome), lost half his teeth and had his fractured jaw wired shut. A 5-game scoring slump isn't likely to send him to the Clemente bridge.

He hasn't scored but he will. The puck will find his stick and Crosby will find the back of the net. No one will be more relieved than him. He’ll raise his hands, open his mouth wide and unleash a joyful yell. Then, before you know it, it’ll be midseason and he’ll be leading the league in scoring.

* A bigger concern, in my opinion, is…..what’s wrong with the power play? Zero points in 17 chances is a big head scratcher. On paper, the combination of Letang, Malkin, Crosby, Hornqvist, and Kessel looks very impressive. On ice, they look fragmented and sloppy. While it’s true that Crosby’s scoring slump is a factor, they aren’t even taking shots. Against Toronto, they spent a significant amount of time just trying to get the puck into the offensive zone and get set up. So much talent and not even a threat of scoring yet. 

For his part, in post-game interviews, Coach Johnston keeps claiming that the PP unit is getting comfortable with each other and he expects scoring to come. Last year in October the power play was scoring goals at a torrid pace and looked superb as a unit. This season, they lack energy and are easily stymied by even marginal penalty killers. 

I’m sure PP Coach Rick Tocchet is losing sleep trying to figure it out. My question is, can you have too much star power on a specialty unit? Sure, you want to maximize that talent and Malkin, Crosby, and Kessel make for an impressive presence, but the bottom line is, they aren’t scoring. If the pieces of the puzzle don’t fit, you have to be willing to move them around.

*Pascal Dupuis is skating. I loved being able to type that. Soon.....very soon.

* I hope those who are fortunate enough to attend the Pens vs Panthers tonight at CEC don't boo every time Jagr has the puck. I hope everyone in attendance realizes it's actually a privilege to watch him play. 

At 43 years old, he needs 42 more points to tie Gordie Howe for third all-time and is 79 points behind Mark Messier for second. With 726 career goals, Jagr is five behind Marcel Dionne for fourth all-time and 15 goals behind Brett Hull for third. 

So what if he didn't come to Pittsburgh when you thought he should have. Jeering him is as baseless as yelling "Crosby sucks". He's a hockey legend. I'd give anything to watch him play one more time. 

(Stats accurate at time of writing.)

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