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Can Sidney Crosby hit the 50-goal mark again next season?

Sep 3, 2010, 2:30 PM EDT

crosbygoalscoring.jpgDuring his first four seasons, Sidney Crosby was transparently pass-first. That’s not a bad thing in many ways since setting up teammates is a naturally selfless act and Crosby is one of the NHL’s most gifted playmakers. Still, when you consider how much the Pittsburgh Penguins depend on his production, opposing teams might have benefited from simply cutting off Crosby’s passing lanes.

Something changed during the 2009 playoffs, though. During the headline-grabbing Capitals-Penguins series, it seemed like something clicked. Crosby started scoring goals at a near Ovechkin-pace in that series, even if most of his goals were wildly different. While Ovechkin overpowered opponents and scored from ridiculous spots on the ice, Crosby succeeded by scoring ugly goals in tough spots.

My guess is that series – and a switch to a composite stick – helped Crosby develop confidence in his shot. He increased his career highs in goals (from 36 to 51) and shots on goal (278 to 298) and tied Steven Stamkos for the Maurice Richard Trophy. Stat crunching blog Behind the Net posed the reasonable question: can Crosby match his goal output from last season?

Thumbnail image for stamkoscrosbyrichard.jpgThey make some great points in that post, but I thought I’d break down why he will (or won’t) hit the 50-goal mark in 2010-11.

Why he won’t score 50 again

  • Crosby’s still a pass-first player at heart and the addition of Mike Comrie might give him a new running mate.
  • His 17.1 shooting percentage for the 2009-10 season is about 3 percent higher than his typical 14 percent success rate. If Crosby again recorded 298 shots but only connected on his usual 14 percent rate, he would have only scored 41-42 goals.
  • He played 81 games last season and generally has a lot of mileage from the last few seasons. Will he catch the injury bug again?

Why he could score 50 again

  • Crosby might have changed his game enough to become a consistent goal scorer, especially if he keeps shooting.
  • He’s just entering his prime at 23.
  • There still will be a lot of pressure on Crosby to carry the team’s offense.

Overall, I agree with Behind the Net’s estimates that he’ll “regress” to the 40 goal range. How many goals do you think Crosby will score next season? Somewhere between 30 and 35, the predicted 40 goal range or perhaps 50 or more? Tell us what you think in the comments.

  1. Alex - Sep 3, 2010 at 3:06 PM

    I think he’ll win the scoring title and MVP honors as well. Barring injury, I think this is shaping up to huge year for Crosby.

  2. NYRFTW - Sep 3, 2010 at 6:29 PM

    I don’t think he will get close to 50 this year. I would say 35 is more accurate only because he doesn’t have a supporting cast. He doesn’t have any wingers to help him unless players just come out of nowhere this season. I am not even sure he will be in the race for points this year. I personally think that the loss of Gonchar is going to hurt the team so much that they will be competing for one of the lower playoff spots in the conference. Their pp will really suffer this year. I think that this will be the year of the Caps. I obviously can be wrong, but I don’t like what i’m seeing on their roster. Who knows how healthy Jordan Staal is going to be? I don’t know, but I do know they won’t suck as bad as my Rangers.

  3. Ally - Sep 3, 2010 at 9:50 PM

    I don’t know how many he’ll get but I don’t think it will be 50. But I don’t care as long as he puts up some form of points and stays healthy!

  4. StakX - Sep 4, 2010 at 12:43 AM

    I don’t know if Cindy will lead the league in goals (he won’t. If Ovechkins healthy all year he wins scoring title hands down), but I do know three catagories he will in fact lead:
    1. Most Dives
    2. Most complaints to the ref
    3. Biggest cry baby
    That about sums up his career from an objective perspective.

  5. Rob - Sep 6, 2010 at 5:14 AM

    James told me in an email he’s got a serious crush of Sid the Kid. That is why he keeps obsessing over him and blogging about him. James wants to make mad, passionate love to Crosby.
    By the way, Ovechkin is an @$$hole.

  6. Randy - Sep 6, 2010 at 5:26 AM

    Go milk you mother’s fun bags, punk.

  7. Sidney who? - Sep 6, 2010 at 9:11 AM

    Randy, don’t be a hater. Maybe he will only lead the league in two of those three categories. And Rob, maybe to you, Ovechkin is an asshole, but the NHL PLAYERS voted him the best player in the league. That’s good enough for me!

  8. Randy - Sep 6, 2010 at 9:51 AM

    Crosby = 2 Stanley Cup appearances – 1 Stanley Cup Championship, Olympic Gold Medal winner.
    Ovechkin = Still waiting on something that probably will never happen.

  9. Dave - Sep 8, 2010 at 11:56 AM

    Ummmm, Crosby’s previous career high (before last season) was 39 goals, not 36.

  10. Chicaben - Sep 24, 2010 at 7:22 PM

    It is spelled catEgories.

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