A little more than a week ago, self-professed hockey nerd Tom Awad wrote an article on ESPN.com titled—and I’m not making this up—“Strange But True, Crosby Hurting Penguins.” [ESPN]
Awad tried to make the case that Crosby is not “pulling his weight” this season because he takes “dumb penalties” and is less-than-stellar in a convoluted, made-up statistic called Goals Created that gives goals more weight than assists.
No, you are not hallucinating. No, your morning Sunny Delight was not spiked with Quaaludes. Awad really did make up a statistic called “Goals Created” that diminishes the importance of, literally, creating goals.
There are so many ways to discredit Awad’s petty, contrarian argument that I feel like a kid with an unlimited gift card at Toys R’ Us. I’m about to pass out from choice anxiety. First of all, Crosby’s set-ups are often so scintillating that Mike Lange could jump down from his perch at Mellon Arena, slide the puck into the gaping net, and then call his own goal.
Case in point: Crosby’s ridiculous game-winning slap-pass to Bill Guerin that froze Avalanche goalie Peter Budaj like a Slovakian snow cone (click here to watch).
If you look up “Goal Creation” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of this goal right next to a picture of Mr. Awad gently weeping underneath the dull flicker of his Alex Ovechkin night light.
But more importantly, this little factoid: Despite playing alongside a myriad of marginally talented wingers this season, Crosby has performed like your unstable ex-girlfriend after your break-up. He scores no matter who he’s with.
In Crosby’s last 10 games, he has racked up 9 goals and 9 assists. Plug those numbers into your Goal Creation flux capacitor, Mr. Awad. Crosby is now third in the league in points (36), six points ahead of hockey media heartthrob Ovechkin.
“But my golly, the big Russian just knows how to score goals,” they swoon. “Look how much fun he’s having out there!”
Be careful not show the mainstream hockey media any real numbers, or we’ll have a tragedy on our hands.
By the way, you know you’re in for an entertaining time when a sports journalist begins an argument with the line, “It’s true that his traditional stats are pretty good, BUT [let’s take a look at some made-up numbers I scribbled with a pretty purple Crayon].”
I think President Obama should use a similar line of logic to deal with our nation’s ongoing economic crisis.
Ray Shero is Still a Genius
In the off-season, Penguins General Manager Ray Shero brought in this little-known, veteran fourth liner named Mike Rupp. Rupp is 6”5. He is versatile – capable of playing both wing and center. Shero signed him for $800,000 per season. For comparison, the departed Petr Sykora makes $2.5 million to season.
Rupp was supposed to be a reliable fourth liner who didn’t make mistakes, who didn’t hurt the team. Instead, the former New Jersey Devil has scored 8 goals already this season, two more than his previous career high, and proven that he has the pace to play alongside Crosby and Malkin when necessary.
Oh, and he’s a good chemistry guy, too. In fact, he’s hit it off so well with the guys in the locker room that he would consider going out on a date with Bill Guerin (click here to see what I mean).
Defense? No worries, Shero’s Got It Covered
Even better, Shero let workhorse defenseman Rob Scuderi go in the offseason and replaced him with 6”4, 201 lbs Jay McKee. Both are known for their ability to block shots.
This season, Scuderi makes $3.4 million and has blocked 33 shots. McKee makes less than $1 million and has blocked 75 shots, third-best in the NHL.
Scuderi’s play in the Stanley Cup Finals earned him the coveted, repetitive title of “world’s best defensive defenseman.” But this season McKee’s plus-minus rating is +6, while Scuderi’s is even.
On second thought, maybe the President should solicit the advice of Mr. Shero.
NHL Salivates as Penguins-Capitals Playoff Rematch is Inevitable
If you’ve slept through the first 29 games of the NHL season, you really haven’t missed much. You can pick back up right where you left off with these cliff notes:
- The Penguins are awesome (40 points, top of Atlantic).
- The Capitals are awesome (40 points, top of Southeast).
- The Flyers are not awesome, but think they have a right to be.
- The Devils, like their city, are just as boring as you remember. Their games at Mellon Arena this season have been a hot, crowded physics lecture.
- Out west, the Red Wings are hung-over and currently out of the playoffs.
- The Sharks, as always, are tearing up the regular season schedule with the best record in the NHL, and feature the dynamite one-two combo of perennial jerk-off Danny Heatley and tepid, pass-first center Joe Thornton – who is always afraid to hurt the other team’s feelings once the playoffs roll around.
- The Blackhawks look a lot like the Penguins – young, extremely talented at both ends of the ice and with good chemistry. But they looked like that before Hossa returned from injury recently. Will Hossa alter that chemistry? Did they really even need to add him, or should they have spent that money on a proven goalie?