Penguins Notebook: 'Prime' numbers for Crosby?
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has already eclipsed the single-season bests in goals and points for linemate Chris Kunitz.
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Sidney Crosby's goals (24) and points (48) through 29 games eclipse the season bests of all of his Penguins teammates except Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, Jordan Staal and Mike Comrie, with Pascal Dupuis having matched that points total once.
Crosby is 23 and in his sixth NHL season. By all measurable standards, he has raised his game to new and exceptional heights, including a 16-game points streak going into tonight's game against Toronto.
Conventional wisdom suggests that hockey players reach their prime in their mid-20s, but that's up for interpretation.
"I think it's different for everybody," Crosby said. "I think it depends on a lot of things -- like when you come in [to the NHL] -- and everyone develops differently and adjusts. It depends on your situation, your role on the team, everything.
"I guess the average, I would say, is 25 to whatever. But with guys coming in as young as they are now, it might be a little earlier. Who knows? Anytime around 24, 25, I would say that's your prime."
So Crosby might be close to his prime -- or perhaps this is the tip of the iceberg.
"I don't know what that is, when the prime is," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "Doctors can talk about what the physical prime is. But I feel like I'm always trying to get better no matter what I'm doing, and Sidney Crosby is always going to try to get better no matter what age he's at.
"He seems to be finding a consistency to his level now that's unique for even him. Maybe that's him coming into his prime. I don't know, but I know this: He's going to keep working to get better."
The Penguins' Kris Letang, a write-in candidate, leads all defensemen and ranks No. 2 overall after the third week of NHL All-Star fan voting. Crosby continues to lead all players.
Letang, who was second among league defensemen with 26 points in 29 games before Tuesday's games, has 210,807 votes. He was in fourth place a week ago but moved ahead of Philadelphia's Chris Pronger, Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom and Chicago's Duncan Keith.
Crosby picked up more than 100,000 votes the past week and has 319,809, putting him ahead of Chicago's Jonathan Toews, Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos, Montreal goaltender Carey Price and Washington's Alex Ovechkin.
With 24 points, Toronto is still languishing a lot closer to the bottom of the Eastern Conference than the top, but the Maple Leafs are coming off back-to-back shootout wins against Boston and Washington.
Like everyone else who faces the Penguins these days, Toronto will be trying to slow Crosby.
Forward Colby Armstrong, who was Crosby's road roommate and a close friend while he was with the Penguins, might try a little informed trash talk.
"I'll try to see what I can do," Armstrong said with a laugh after the Maple Leafs practiced at Consol Energy Center.
"Obviously, it's a big challenge for us to contain him. We're going to have to, like the rest of the league, stay on him."
Armstrong, who is coming off of hand surgery, has one point, a goal, in 10 games.
Malkin again missed practice. He is day to day because of a knee injury and has missed the past two games. Comrie (undisclosed injury) also remains out. ... Forward Beau Bennett, the Penguins' first-round draft pick in June, did not make the cut as one of 29 players on the United States' preliminary roster for the World Junior Championships. Bennett, a freshman at Denver, has three goals, 10 points in 17 games and plus-minus rating of plus-5. ... Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson wore a helmet cam on the left side of his mask and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury wore a microphone on his hip during practice as part of HBO's production of "24/7," which will debut next Wednesday.
First Published December 8, 2010 12:00 am