Sidney Crosby: What Injuries and the Lockout Have Cost Penguins Star
Unfortunately, injuries and the current lockout have forced Crosby to miss quite a few regular-season and playoff games over the last two-plus seasons.
Crosby is healthy and ready to play, which is one reason why hockey fans want the work stoppage to end as quickly as possible.
Let's look at what Crosby might have accomplished if he was fully healthy over the last two years, and there was no NHL lockout going on right now.
Crosby's offensive production last season was unbelievable (1.68 points per game), and even though he only played in 22 regular season games, you could see that he was back to his old superstar form.
The Penguins star played in 371 games before he suffered a concussion during the 2010-11 season when injury forced him to miss a lot of games. That's an average of 74.2 games per year (total of five seasons from 2005-06 through 2009-10). In those five year's Crosby put up 506 points, or an average of 101.2 points per season.
Using his yearly averages of 74.2 games and 101.2 points in the five seasons before his head/neck injuries became a problem, he would have scored 35.2 more points during the 2010-11 season, and 64.2 more points last year.
What does this mean? Instead of having 609 career points, Crosby would have about 708.
There's no guarantee that Crosby would have remained at his 101.2 points per season average if he was healthy over the last two years, but after watching the way he performed last season, it's certainly possible.
Since Crosby was healthy and playing well going into last year's playoffs, I don't think the outcome of the Penguins versus Philadelphia Flyers first round series would have been different if the 25-year-old played a full season in 2011-12.
However, the outcome of the 2010-11 Eastern Conference playoffs might have been very different if Crosby was healthy. Without their two best players (Evgeni Malkin and Crosby), the Penguins lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a seven-game first-round series.
With Crosby in the lineup, the Penguins probably would have won that series in five or six games, which would have set up another playoff battle between Crosby and Washington Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin.
Since the Lightning swept the Capitals in the East semifinals, it's certainly possible that Pittsburgh could have won in four or five games.
If that were to happen, the Penguins would have played the eventual Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Bruins and Penguins split a four-game season series in 2010-11, with Pittsburgh winning the last two meetings without Crosby.
The Penguins could have beaten the Bruins too, but the chances of it happening wouldn't have been very good. Boston was playing extremely well, and Conn Smythe trophy winner Tim Thomas was on one of the most historic playoff runs by a goaltender.
Still Plenty of Greatness to Come
Crosby probably wouldn't have won another Stanley Cup in either of the last two seasons if he was fully healthy, but injuries and the current lockout have prevented him from racking up impressive stats and strengthening his Hall of Fame resume.
We can look back at what might have been, but the fact remains that Crosby probably still has at least a decade more of NHL games to give fans plenty of excitement and memorable moments.
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