Penguins center Sidney Crosby is thought of as one of the elite playmakers in the NHL while Phil Kessel is of the league’s better goal scorers. Interestingly enough, at the one-quarter mark of the season, Crosby finds himself leading the league in goals with 14 (despite missing six games due to injury) while Kessel sits behind only Edmonton’s Connor McDavid in the assist department with 15. Speaking with Jonathan Bombulie of the Pittsburgh Tribune, Crosby tried to explain his sudden jump in goal production:
“Typically, I think you probably look to pass. I think it’s always going to be like that. But when they’re going in for you, without even thinking about it, you probably tend to put it at the net a little bit more.”
Crosby’s shot per game average is up slightly compared to his career numbers but not by any significant amount. The same can’t be said with regards to Kessel’s shooting numbers as he’s down more than a full shot per game this season. Despite his passing prowess so far, head coach Mike Sullivan is encouraging him to start shooting more:
“When Phil’s at his best, he’s a shoot-first guy. He’s a primary threat. When you watch him shoot the puck, it’s hard as his coach not to encourage him to shoot the puck. He scores as well as anybody in the league.”
While it’s likely that both players will revert back to their past form, their changes in roles certainly haven’t affected the Penguins in the standings as they sit tied for fourth in the league heading into Friday’s action.
More from Pittsburgh:
- One area where the team has struggled so far this season is at the faceoff dot, notes Bill West of the Pittsburgh Tribune. The Penguins as a whole have won just 47.8% of their draws, placing them in a tie for 28th league-wide. Crosby in particular is off to a rough start here as he is at 45.8%, nearly 7% off of his career rate and he takes more faceoffs than anyone on the team at a little over 23 per game. Matt Cullen is the only full-time Pittsburgh center on the happy side of 50% at 53.6% but that’s his lowest success rate since 2011-12.
- Mark Recchi, Pittsburgh’s player development coach, will be divesting his tiny share of the Vegas Golden Knights franchise, reports Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Recchi is one of many people who are believed to have a small stake – around 0.01% – in the franchise but since he is an active employee of the Penguins, it represents a conflict. Recchi isn’t the only member of Pittsburgh’s front office that has had to sell his stake in another team as GM Jim Rutherford had a small ownership stake in Carolina that he had to sell in order to take the helm for the Pens.