Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Hating Sidney Crosby a Waste of Time

I've said it. Probably hundreds of times. My mom, dad, and brother have said it. Pretty much everyone that doesn't go to games with a streaking penguin on their chest has said it at one point or another. "Crosby sucks." And you know what? We're all wasting our breath. Like it or not, Sid the Kid is the face of the NHL and rightfully so seeing as he is the best player in the game. It is not a title he ever asked for, rather one that was thrust upon him at an early age. He had some growing up to do early in his career but hey, haven't we all? Here are some reasons to just start enjoying his play.

  • Crosby's evolution. Players often get better throughout the course of their careers, but few have changed their game the way Crosby has. He has always been an elite playmaker, recording 63 assists as a rookie, not falling below that number until last year when he had 58 during his first 50 goal season (he had 48 assists during his third season in only 53 games, a rate of 74 over a full season). Passing has never been an issue, but there was always knocks against his game; he couldn't score, was not good on faceoffs, and his defensive play wasn't strong enough. Ever since his epic duel against Alex Ovechkin in the 2009 playoffs, a series in which he scored eight goals in seven games, he has been a goal scoring machine. Newfound confidence, along with the switch to a one-piece stick, helped him record 51 goals last season, tying his with Steven Stamkos for the league lead. This year he is on pace to record just the second 60 goal season since 1996, the other belonging to Ovechkin. He has also greatly improved his performance in the faceoff dot. His winning percentage in his rookie season was a measly 45.5%, but has steadily improved and so far this season has a 55.7% on a league high 958 draws, 149 more than the second closest player. Steve Yzerman was one of the greatest players in NHL history, one of the great stories is how he transformed his game from an offensive dynamo (his 155 points in 1988-89 is the highest total for someone not named Gretzky or Lemieux) to being one of the top two-way players in the game, winning the Selke Trophy in 1999-2000. All it took for him to do that was 13 years of playoff disappointments and legendary coach Scotty Bowman. Crosby is only in his sixth season and is one of the most underrated defensive forwards. Don't be surprised when he ends his career with a Selke Trophy or two. As I stated before, Crosby has evolved while most players simply get better. Let's compare Crosby to (surprise, surprise) Ovechkin. Ovie has become one of the most dynamic talents the game has ever seen. However, his game hasn't changed much, making him predictable and easy to stop. He does pass more than he used to but still tries, way too often, to skate up the left wing and snipe a shot on the goalie. As the Canadiens showed in the playoffs last year, if you get in his lanes you stop Ovechkin and, consequently, the Capitals. Crosby has been able to find many different ways, not just to score, but contribute all around the ice. 
  • His will to win. Regardless of how much you may hate him, and this is usually because, more often than not, the Penguins are likely to come out on top of yours with Crosby being the main reason why, he is a winner that is going to show up and play his best when games matter most. Included in his resume is the shootout winner in the first Winter Classic, two goals in elimination games against the Flyers and Capitals in the same playoff year, and of course the golden goal in the Olympics last year. He is a player that absolutely hates to lose and will do anything to avoid the agonizing sting of defeat. The bigger the game and the more the crowd is on his back, the better he is going to play. All those geniuses that attend Flyers games probably don't realize that chanting "Crosby sucks" all game only makes him want to win more. They would do better to take a page out of Mystery, Alaska and read newspapers and ignore him when he's on the ice. Any bitterness directed is way only fuels his intensity and motivates him ever further, putting him into a zone that will only end up costing your team. 
  • Simply put, Crosby means more to his team than any other player means to theirs in the NHL. Comparing the captains of the two Pennsylvania teams, Mike Richards represents, while Sidney Crosby is. Let me explain. Anyone who watches hockey on a regular basis is familiar with Philadelphia's particular brand of hockey. Hard hitting, fast-paced, in your face, pedal to the metal hockey. They have earned the nickname Broad Street Bullies, with players like Bobby Clarke, Dave Schultz, Rick Tocchet, Scott Mellanby, and Eric Lindros suiting up for them over the years. These players could not only rack up points, but piles of penalty minutes as well. Richards is the new face of the franchise, whose enthusiasm and intensity mirrors the image the Flyers have made for themselves since the early 70s. Richards, however, really is just one contributer, albeit an extremely important one, on a very deep team. When they win, they get contributions from all across the lineup, as clearly shown by the fact the Flyers are tied with the Penguins for the top spot in the Atlantic division, yet only have three players on pace for more than 70 points, however each player on their top three lines has a legitimate shot at 20 goals. By comparison, the Penguins have only three players on pace for 20 goals. Basically, when the Penguins win, Crosby is going to have a major contribution to their scoresheet. During his recent 25 game point streak he recorded 26 goals and 50 points while the Penguins in total scored 88 goals during that span. He scored 30% of the teams goals by himself and had a part in 57% of their total offensive production. Yes, they do have another superstar in Evgeni Malkin, but he hasn't been as spectacular as usual the past year and a half, leaving Crosby to produce the bulk of the offence. The salary cap also leaves GM Ray Shero without room to provide him with quality linemates, meaning he produces most of his point playing between Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis on the top line. They would respectively be second and third liners on most other teams. Crosby absolutely is everything to the Penguins and when he doesn't produce, the team does not win.
So like him or not, Sidney Crosby is the best player in, and the face of, the NHL, and will probably be so for a long time. So you might as well quit the booing and jeering, sit back, and watch Crosby dominate the league, break records and set the new standard for every player coming into the league from now on. 

No comments:

Post a Comment