Crosby and some of the NHL’s top players could be watching the playoffs this season ... Leafs slightly off Babcock’s schedule ... How does Johnny Crescent Street sound? ... Boo to Tonya Harding
Sidney Crosby has two won Hart Trophies, two Conn Smythe Trophies, two Art Ross Trophies and three Stanley Cups: And if the season ended today, he would not be on my ballot for Most Valuable Player in the National Hockey League for the first time in years. This isn’t a condemnation, necessarily, of Crosby, who has scored nine points in his past three games after a slow period, but more of an indication of where the meandering Pittsburgh Penguins find themselves just past the halfway point of the schedule.
Crosby has been a finalist for the Hart in six different seasons and top five (on the ballot of five) seven times in a magnificent career. But he has been nowhere near the scoring leaders for most of his 13th season, although a second-half push is forever anticipated. Crosby’s not alone with
Connor his team struggles. McDavid’s
Edmonton Oilers are nowhere near the playoffs, as are Erik Karlsson’s
Ottawa Senators. When asked at the beginning of the season to list the top 50 players, those were basically a consensus top three.
The betting here is that Crosby and the Penguins will find their way to the postseason. The same won’t or can’t be said of McDavid and the Oilers or Karlsson and the Senators this season.
The playoffs will begin in April and some of hockey’s brightest lights won’t be involved.
THIS AND THAT
My Hart Trophy ballot after 40-plus games might look something like this right now:
Nikita Kucherov; Steven 1. 2. Stamkos; Blake Wheeler;
3. Nathan MacKinnon; 4. 5. John Tavares. And trying
Patrice to find a place for Bergeron Victor
... With Hedman
now hurt, Karlsson and Ottawa struggling and Brent Burns
not dominating the way he did a year ago, Drew Doughty
jumps back in the lead for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenceman. The Kings have only given up 99 goals against, best in the league, and Doughty is on the ice for almost half every
Gerard Gallant game ... runs away with the coach-of-theyear award in Las Vegas, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some quality work being elsewhere. On the list of the
Jon Cooper, impressive:
Bruce Cassidy, Tampa;
John Stevens, Boston; Los Travis Green, Angeles; Paul Maurice, Vancouver; John Hynes, Winnipeg; Jared Bednar, New Jersey; Colorado. Worst first-half Phil Housley coach: in Buffalo, where the Sabres are
Mike Babcock a disaster ... breaks the Leafs’ season down in five-game segments. He wants six points for every five games played. That would give the club 96 points after 80 games. Right now, they’re one point behind where Babcock expects them to be ... So what’s more annoying, Babcock’s
Auston unwillingness to put Matthews
on the Leafs first power play — wouldn’t you
Mitch Marner like to see and Matthews together with the man advantage? — or his
Roman stubborn belief that Polak
can help his hockey team. When St. Louis traded Polak to Toronto years back, the reason: They didn’t think they could continue to grow with Polak on their blue line ... Marner is the Leafs’ most creative passer. Matthews is their best shooter. It’s normally the opposite to have a centre as best passer and a winger as best shooter.
Wayne Gretzky See and Jari Kurri, Adam Oates
I want to see him race (Kendrys) Morales. I think it would be close. An MLB scout on new Jay Yangervis Solarte
Perennial Hart Trophy candidate Sidney Crosby is nowhere near the race this season.