Sidney Crosby Will Heat Up for the Pittsburgh Penguins

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Sidney Crosby
NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 3: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates during an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on February 3, 2018 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

This season, Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby had one of his roughest starts ever. Since then, he’s been impressive and eclipsed a point per game yet again, and Crosby will heat up.

Sidney Crosby’s Point Production

Sidney Crosby has 69 points in his first 64 games this season, which on the surface seems reasonable for him. While the raw totals are nice, what might cause some concern is that he only has 25 even-strength points. Putting him on pace for the lowest goals and assists per hour of his entire career. Usually, this is time to raise an alarm, but not for Sidney Crosby. His heat map provides some hope. (Heat Map From HockeyViz)

Red represents where shots are coming from at an above-average rate and blue shows us below average. Crosby’s heat map is exactly what elite offensive players strive for. Drowning goalies in high danger shots around the net and in the slot, Crosby drives a dominant Penguins offense. But if the Penguins are so good with Crosby on the ice, where have all his points gone? Well, his dramatic drop in five on five points is a product of two things. First up is individual shooting luck, which has plagued him all year. (Data From Corsica)

Crosby’s Shooting Luck

This graph shows just how unlucky Sidney Crosby has been. On the far left is his actual goal total of seven. Then there are his 13 expected goals (XG), which takes all of his shot locations and estimates an average shooter’s goal total given his shots. Since Crosby is an above-average shooter, his shooting talent is taken into account (XG W/Talent) where he has about 15 expected goals. XG with talent minus actual goals is a good indicator of players shooting luck in a given season.

Applying this to Crosby, 15 expected goals and seven actual goals shows that he cannot catch a break this year. His goal total has been cut in half and then some from unfortunate shooting luck. Variance robbing him of about 8 goals is the first reason his even strength point production has dropped. Thankfully for the Penguins, bad luck doesn’t last forever. As Crosby starts to get fortunate bounces, look for him to be among the best at lighting the lamp down the stretch. When looking at his assist rates, the story is similar.

Crosby’s Linemates Luck

Crosby’s assist rate has cratered too, tanking his point rates. He currently sits outside the top-100 in assists per hour which would be a first for him. Although his assists are down too, that is likely because of the same rotten luck that cost him about 8 individual goals. This becomes clear when looking at his micro stats. (Data Viz From CJ Turtoro)

The second row down shows us Sidney Crosby’s percentile rank in shot assists per hour each of the past two seasons. He ranks in the 100th percentile both times. Absolutely nobody generates more shots for their linemates than Sidney Crosby, and yet his assists have plummeted. This is another sign of good things to come. He is getting his teammates more shots than anyone else, they just aren’t scoring… yet. As mentioned above, bad shooting luck doesn’t last forever. When his teammates start scoring on all the shots he is generating for them, Crosby’s assists are going to skyrocket too.

At over a point per game, Sidney Crosby is already having a fantastic season, and it’s only going to get better. He is generating plenty of dangerous shots for himself and his linemates, but bad puck luck has suppressed his point totals. Bad bounces don’t last forever, so expect Crosby to improve on his current point per game pace and be one of the leagues hottest players from here on out.

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