Right now, it seems that the 48-game season is working out in Thomas Vanek's favor. The Buffalo Sabres star is the leading the NHL in scoring.
Don't expect him to stay at that lofty perch.
This is no insult to Vanek, who has the kind of quick release and accuracy with his shot that makes him the most dangerous of all the Buffalo Sabres.
If his team is going to make the playoffs this year, you can be sure Vanek will be a key reason behind their success.
But he is not about to hold on to his position as the NHL's leading scorer.
He's a good player, but he is not at Crosby's level. Vanek may hold onto the lead for a week or two, maybe even three. But before the month of February is over, there's a very good chance that the best player in hockey will also be the leading scorer.
Crosby is healthy again, and he is starting to hit his stride.
Once that happens, Crosby will become a dominant scorer.
Vanek's start has seen him score 19 points in his first eight games. He has had two five-point games.
Crosby told the New York Times that he is healthy again and that he was able to train at full speed in the offseason without thinking about his previous concussion issues.
A 48-game season should be enough for Crosby to be peaking just as the NHL playoffs start. After two seasons battling concussion-related issues, Crosby is still in the process of returning to top form. He's not there yet.
He may have returned to action at the conclusion of the 2011-12 season and competed in the playoffs, but he was away from the game for the final half of the 2010-11 season and the majority of last year after his concussion difficulties.
Crosby started performing well upon his return—but just not at the level that he had been at in the past.
That's changing now. Playing three or four games per week will get him back to speed quickly. The fact that it's not the usual marathon will help him adjust to the mental grind.
As the days and games go by and Crosby asserts himself a bit more each game, he will feel more confident and regain his stature as perhaps the game's brightest star.
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