Any one who has watched or paid attention to the NHL at all this year knows how dominant Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has been.
Playing in his first full, injury-free season since 2010, Crosby has gone beast mode for the Pens in 2014, putting up the 5th 100+ point season of his career.
He is the odds on favorite to win the Hart Trophy for most valuable player this year, and yet there are still those trying to detract from the year Sid is having.
Not convinced that Crosby is Hart worthy? Right this way.
First and foremost, his 103 points is head and shoulders above anyone else in the league this year. In fact, he is 16 ahead of the next closest player, Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf, who has 87.
Of those points, 69 of them are goals or primary assists. To put that in perspective, Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews has 68 total points this year. Take away almost 40 of Crosby’s assists, and he still has more points than Toews.
He has factored into 44% of his teams total goals, also good for first in the league. This includes nearly 60% of the team’s 31 power-play goals, the main reason that the Pens are first in the NHL in power-play percentage.
And what makes it all the more amazing is that he has done so with reactively inconsistent line mates. Since winger Pascal Dupuis went down early in the season with a knee injury, Crosby has seen a seemingly endless rotation of right-wingers slotted in to play with him and left-winger Chris Kunitz.
Despite the constant line jumbling, Crosby has been consistent from an offensive standpoint all year. In fact, he has failed to register a point in only 20 games this season.
What’s more, he has been the lone constant on a team that has been absolutely destroyed by injuries this season. With nearly 500 total man games lost this year, Crosby has missed only one, a midweek contest in Colorado a few days back that saw head Coach Dan Bylsma rest nearly a half-dozen players in preparation for the playoffs.
In fact, he is on pace to equal his career high for games played with 81, which he set in his rookie season.
He leads all Penguins in time on ice, averaging nearly 22 minutes per game, has won nearly 53% of his face-offs, and has performed in every single situation the Penguins have called on him for this year.
The main argument I’ve heard against Crosby for Hart goes a little something like this: “The Hart is for the player to be judged most valuable to his team. The Penguins have a ton of starts and have won without Crosby in the past!”
And while Pittsburgh was able to win when Crosby in the lineup a few years ago, 2014 is a different story.
This season, the Penguins have quite literally hung their hope on Crosby’s back, and he has very rarely failed to deliver.
When Crosby scores a point, the Penguins are 47-8-4.
When Crosby fails to score a point, the Penguins are just 3-16-1.
He sets the pace for the entire team night in and night out and makes everyone he plays with better, just look at the season Chris Kunitz is having.
Ryan Getzlaf is having a career year for the Ducks, and Flyers captain Claude Giroux has been unstoppable after suffering one of the worst starts to a season that you could think of.
Both are worthy of being in the conversation, but in the end, neither one deserves the award over Crosby. He is, to put it simply, that good.