Sidney Crosby didn’t start 2015-16 the way he wanted. Through his first 30 games, the Pittsburgh Penguins captain had only 19 points, and was struggling to a -7 rating. Crosby had never finished a season with fewer points than games played, but it looked like he was in danger of putting up the worst season of his career. It wouldn’t happen, as Crosby would remind the world why he is one of the best players in the world, finishing with 85 points on the season and trailing just Patrick Kane and Jamie Benn for the league lead.
In an enlightening article for SI.com yesterday, Crosby writes about his struggles last season and how much the media and fan reaction got to him.
…when the media repeats the same questions — particularly when the team isn’t winning consistently — you already know that whatever is being said out there, it isn’t good. You can feel the atmosphere in the arena and see the look in people’s eyes. It’s hard not to hold the stick a little bit tighter. It’s hard not to want to fix it all with one big game. It’s hard not to over-think and over-work and try to make perfect plays instead of just playing.
Crosby goes on to eloquently deliver what the analytical community has been preaching for years, that point totals can be very misleading without more information.
When you think about scoring and producing in hockey, you want chances. It’s not points so much as chances. Chances give you confidence. No hockey player can really control what his or her point total is from night to night. That’s not how the game works. What I try to do is just generate chances. I knew if I could do that, everything else would follow.
It’s simple math, really: The more scoring opportunities you create, the more of them will find the back of the net. Eventually.
Indeed, it’s simple math. Crosby did well to create those scoring chances, all the way to the Stanley Cup. One of the players trying to catch Crosby in that scoring race now finally has a ’C’ sewn into his sweater; Blake Wheeler, the eighth-leading scorer in the NHL last season spoke to Sportsnet’s Sean Reynolds about how head coach Paul Maurice has helped him increase his play the last few seasons.
Paul has allowed me to kind of discover who I am as a player. Sometimes that’s the hardest thing to do as a player, really solidify the one or two things that make you different than everyone else. I think Paul was able to help me identify those things and help me flourish in some other areas where I wasn’t as good.
Those are probably two of the hardest working, most consistent guys I’ve ever played with. It’s such a cliche, but you show up to the rink everyday and you wouldn’t beat those guys to the rink ever, you probably wouldn’t beat them to the gym, and you’re not going to beat them to the ice or stay out longer than them.
Finally, Connor McDavid and other Oilers players got to skate at the new Rogers Place in Edmonton yesterday while construction continued on the building, and Gene Principe of Sportsnet was there to talk to them. McDavid was very impressed with the layout of the building.
This building is absolutely amazing, you guys can see it. To be out here today is pretty special. The scoreboard is beautiful. It feels like they (the seats) are right on top of you.
The Oilers will start their season at home against their rival Calgary Flames at the new building on September 12th. It should be a wonderful experience for the fans and players, and perhaps start a new winning tradition in the city of champions.