They’re right, you know. Time does fly. Hard to believe that come next fall, it will be 16 years since Sidney Crosby played his first NHL game for the Pittsburgh Penguins. At the same time, it will mark the 15th anniversary of Evgeni Malkin joining him to supply the Penguins with what’s been the most dynamic and dangerous 1-2 punch down the middle ever since.
For all the great times and titles that they’ve brought to the Steel City over that time period – four Stanley Cup final appearances and three wins – the reality is that time in running out for this dynamic duo to do it again. The Stanley Cup window for Crosby and Malkin is clearly sliding downward.
Currently, the Penguins are third in the NHL’s East Division, where only four of eight teams will qualify for the playoffs. That likely means that one of the third-place Penguins, fourth-place Boston Bruins or fifth-place Philadelphia Flyers are going to miss out on postseason play. A perusal of the best online sport betting sites shows the Penguins with odds of +2500 to win the Stanley Cup. There are currently 10 NHL teams offered at a shorter betting line to win the Cup, including East Division rivals the Bruins (+1500), New York Islanders (+1200) and Washington Capitals (+1000).
The fact of the matter is that if the time isn’t now for Crosby and Malkin to lead Pittsburgh to another Stanley Cup, then it had better arrive soon.
“Sidney Crosby” by NHL is licensed under CC BY 3.0
Production Has Fallen Off
Sid The Kid celebrated his 33rd birthday last Aug. 7 and skated in his 1,000th career NHL game this season, so the question must be posed – is it time that he was given a new nickname?
If the season were to end today, there wouldn’t be a Penguins player among the NHL’s top 10 scorers. That would be the second season in a row that this occurred. Last season, Malkin was the top Pittsburgh scorer, finishing 14th in the NHL with 74 points.
Prior to that, at least one of Crosby or Malkin rated among the league’s top 10 point getters in seven straight seasons and 11 of the previous 12 campaigns.
Currently, Crosby is tied for 19th in the NHL with 11-20-31 totals. In the East Division, Boston’s Brad Marchand (34) and Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom (33) both show more points this season than Crosby.
Nonetheless, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan insists that looking beyond the numbers, Sid is still doing Crosby things.
“I think he gives us a chance to win each and every night,” Sullivan told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s always been inclined to do that.
“It’s part of his leadership. It’s part of his character. It’s part of his DNA.”
Malkin’s Rough Season
You’ve got to scroll all the way down to 64th on the list to find Malkin’s 8-16-24 numbers. Much of the 2020-21 NHL campaign is proving to be a struggle for Malkin.
He scored just one goal through his first 10 games. Malkin, 34, was beginning to find his groove and had collected 17 points over his last 15 games, 11 of which were Penguins victories.
That’s when misfortune knocked at his door again. He suffered a lower-body injury in a collision with Bruins defenseman Jared Tinordi during a March 16th game.
“Evgeni Malkin” by NHL is licensed under CC BY 3.0
Malkin’s status is being listed by the team as week to week.
“That was one of the things I reiterated to him in the text I sent him, how disappointed I was for him in this circumstance because he’s played so well for us as of late,” Sullivan told the Post-Gazette. “He’s developed a lot of chemistry with [Kasperi Kapanen]. Those guys have been really good for us.
“We’re hopeful that we’ll get him back in a timely fashion and he can continue to build on the progress that they’ve made.”
Is It Already Too Late?
Several of hockey’s greatest stars who were part of multiple championship teams were done winning Stanley Cups long before they reached their 30th birthdays. Gordie Howe was 27 when he earned his final Stanley Cup inscription. Wayne Gretzky was also 27 the last time he lifted Lord Stanley’s mug aloft. Guy Lafleur was 27 and Bobby Orr was just 24.
The worrisome fact for Penguins fans might not be if Crosby and Malkin have another Cup run in them. There’s always the possibility that their Stanley Cup window is already closed.