Four wins away from a Stanley Cup Final berth, Sidney Crosby disappeared.
The Pittsburgh Penguins’ former NHL MVP did nothing to prevent his team from being swept by the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final. He failed to score a single goal in the series, as Sporting News’ Jesse Spector so eloquently put it:
I had as many points in the Eastern Conference finals as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin combined. So did you. Congratulations, you rock!— Jesse Spector (@jessespector) June 8, 2013
After Crosby’s underwhelming performance, it shouldn’t be so clear cut that he’s the best player in the league. The Detroit News’ Bob Wojnarowski questioned more than that after the Pens’ fourth straight loss.
Quick question: Sidney Crosby is still good, right? Didn't see it in this series, not for a single second.— Bob Wojnowski (@bobwojnowski) June 8, 2013
Oddsmakers favored Pittsburgh heavily over Boston. Bovada (via Odds Shark) listed the Pens as a 3-2 favorite to win the Stanley Cup prior to the series. The Bruins were only given 9-2 odds.
The best player on the best team doesn’t allow his team to be swept without a fight—fight being used in a figurative sense, not literal. Crosby took it literally.
The best player isn't only an elite talent. He leads by example as well. Crosby failed in that aspect of his responsibility.
Instead of conducting himself like Pittsburgh was the team to beat, he allowed Boston to get under his skin in Game 1 and that set the tone for the entire series.
Here he is foolishly getting in the 6’9”, 255-pound Zdeno Chara’s face.
Crosby was not only outclassed in the conference final, he was tremendously outplayed.
Is Crosby still the undisputed best player in the NHL?
Wojnarowski went too far. Four games do not define whether a player is still “good” or not. Crosby is still a top-notch talent.
The stage, though—four games away from the world championship—in which he flat out let down his prohibitively favored team, should force analysts to readdress who they label as the best hockey player on the planet.
David Daniels is a breaking news writer at Bleacher Report and news editor at Wade-O Radio.