Perspective on playoff "production" of star forwards
CJ Turtoro dove into the 'struggles' of the Devils' stars and examined whether there is cause for concern.
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By CJ Turtoro (@CJTDevil)
Over 12 games, he had two goals and five assists for seven points with a -6 rating. That’s not nearly good enough for a guy with 30+ goals and 40+ assists during the regular season.
The team needs guys to play their best hockey in crunch time, and he was averaging almost a half a point per game FEWER than he did during the regular season.
Who do you think I’m talking about right now? Nico Hischier? Jesper Bratt? Timo Meier?
On “production” and sample size
The mystery player is none other than Sidney Crosby for the month of post-season hockey he played from 4/22/16 to 5/22/16. Am I cherry-picking? Absolutely. That’s what the post-season is. It’s a cherry picked set of a few games that are given disproportionate attention in the evaluation of every player, coach and GM in the league.
In that 2016 regular season, Sidney Crosby put up 85 points in 80 games. In the playoffs, he failed to produce at least a point per game in ANY 12-game stretch and finished with a -2 rating. Despite this, the Penguins won the Cup that year … and the next year. Crosby won the Conn Smythe … both times. In 2016 he scored zero goals in the 6-game Cup Final. In 2017, he scored one (1). Both times, he beat out a teammate who had more points and a higher +/- in fewer minutes (Kessel 2016, Malkin 2017).
I’m telling this story on a Devils blog for two reasons. The first reason is that the Devils entire post-season was 12 games. Before you overreact to anyone’s post-season, remember Crosby’s 2/5/7 stretch of playoff hockey in his prime.
If it can happen to the best player of a generation at the height of his powers, it can happen to anybody. Yes, that includes Nico, Timo, Jesper, and whoever else you think might have had a bad post-season.
The second reason is that, because it was Sidney Crosby – who, at the time, already had a Cup and two MVPs – no one had a hard time realizing that there was more to his game than the point production – hence the Conn Smythes.
Sidney Crosby was not the most “productive” Penguin. But he was the most important one. And he was very possibly the best player in those playoffs.
And no, it’s not because of his intangibles of leadership “in the room” or grit. I don’t think anyone who’s seen an interview with Crosby would mistake him for a motivational orator, and one of the bigger knocks on him earlier in his career (still, to some) is that he was soft and a whiner.
No, his impact was very much tangible. He was a constant threat to advance the puck, a wizard in the OZ, consistently found soft spots in defenses, and exploited them with skating, shooting, and passing – and he did that all while playing against the very best players the opponent had to offer and being the top of every opposing scouting report. He produced. Even though he didn’t score as many points as expected.
That brings me to the Devils.
Was the play of the Devils forwards a concern?
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