Sidney Crosby waits for a pass against the Maple Leafs during a game in January. The Penguins center and captain won the Ted Lindsay Award.
By Shelly Anderson Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
He was asked about it several times during the season. So were his coach, his teammates.
Now that he has had a little time to reflect, Penguins center Sidney Crosby figures that, yes, he probably did reach the ultra-elite level of play in 2013 that he showed in the first half of 2010-11, when he had 66 points in 41 games before a concussion ended that season.
"I feel like I was able to get to that level for the most part," Crosby, 25, said Saturday night after he was rewarded for his play and his 56 points in 36 games with the Ted Lindsay Award, which goes to the NHL's most outstanding player as determined by a vote of players.
From January 2011 through the end of last season, Crosby played in just 28 games, including the playoffs. Then he sat out for more than three months with the rest of the league when a lockout postponed the start of this season to January.
"I missed a lot of time prior to this season, so to be able to get in that many games so quickly probably helped me, especially with the lockout," he said. "I was well rested."
He laughed slightly at the understatement in that last sentence.
"I was excited to get back out there and felt like I got to the level that I wanted to," said Crosby, who also won the award, then called the Lester B. Pearson Award, in 2007 and was a finalist three years ago.
He missed the last 12 games, or a quarter of the lockout-shortened 48-game schedule, after having surgery for a broken jaw. He got hit on the chin with a deflected puck March 30, knocking out several teeth and requiring the jaw to be stabilized with metal plates and screws.
As it was, he maintained the scoring lead until the final week of the season, had a plus-minus rating of plus-26 and won 54.6 percent of his faceoffs.
His missed time probably cost him in voting by the Professional Hockey Writers Association for the Hart Trophy as league MVP. That went to Washington's Alex Ovechkin.
Ovechkin, who had 50 first-place votes to Crosby's 46 and won by just 32 points, had a slow start with just five goals, 10 points in the first 16 games and struggled with a move from left wing to right wing. But he finished strong, tying Crosby in points and leading the NHL with 36 goals.
"I think I had the best year I possibly could," Crosby said. "Alex had a great second half. I got hurt and was missing some time."
The third Hart finalist was New York Islanders center John Tavares. The other Ted Lindsay finalists were Ovechkin and Martin St. Louis of Tampa Bay.
The Penguins' Kris Letang was a finalist for the Norris Trophy, which goes to the top defenseman. That award was won by Montreal's P.K. Subban.
Letang's knock is that he missed 13 games because of injuries, although he and Subban tied for the lead among NHL defensemen with 38 points each. Subban was in a holdout situation at the start of the season and missed six games. Second-place finisher Ryan Suter, of Minnesota, had 32 points in 48 games and led all skaters with an average ice time of 27:16.
Brandon Saad of the Chicago Blackhawks, a Gibsonia native, was a finalist for the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year. That award went to Jonathan Huberdeau of Florida.
The other award announced Saturday was the Vezina Trophy for the top goaltender. That went to Sergei Bobrovsky of Columbus.
Crosby likes Malkin signing
Crosby found out last week he and fellow star center Evgeni Malkin could play the rest of their NHL careers together.
Crosby last summer signed a 12-year extension that runs through the 2024-25 season. Last week, Malkin agreed to an eight-year extension through 2021-22.
"I'm really happy, very excited that he's going to be part of our team for a long time," Crosby said. "[General manager Ray Shero] was able to do that pretty quickly [after the season ended].
"Really happy and really excited that it's done and we're going to be playing together for a long time."
Local player goes overseas
Defenseman Dylan Reese, an Upper St. Clair native, signed a one-year contract with Amur Khabarovsk of the Kontinental Hockey League, according to that Russian team's website.
EDITOR'S NOTE, posted June 16, 2013: An earlier version of this story indicated Sidney Crosby had 66 goals in 41 games in the first half of the 2010-11 season. It should have said 66 points.