Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby celebrates after scoring a goal against the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center on Feb. 4, 2017. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/NHLI via Getty Images)
Backed by one of the best scoring clips ever, the Pittsburgh Penguins captain is just three points shy of hitting four digits.
A three-point night in a 4-1 victory Saturday over the St. Louis Blues means Sidney Crosby is just three away. That’s three points away from 1,000 in his career.
The Pittsburgh Penguins captain needs just three more points to become the 86th player in NHL history to reach the four-digit mark. That in of itself is a tremendous accomplishment. A deeper look at the numbers shows how impressive his career has been.
The 29-year-old has 997 points in just 752 games, a 1.326 points-per-game career total. That’s good for fifth all-time behind Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy and Bobby Orr – some very select company to be sure. What makes Crosby’s rate of scoring so remarkable is the era he’s played in. Teams have generally scored around 2.75 goals per game during Crosby’s career. During Gretzky’s, Lemieux’s and Bossy’s heydays, teams were closing in on four goals each contest. Orr’s era was slightly more offensive than Crosby’s with teams scoring more than three each night.
To put Crosby’s scoring rate in the context of his peer group, only three other players who began their careers after the 2004-05 lockout are among the top 50 players of all-time in terms of points per game. As of Sunday, teammate Evgeni Malkin is 14th at 1.178, Alex Ovechkin is 18th at 1.137 and Patrick Kane is 47th at 1.004. For point of reference, Ovechkin, the player with whom Crosby is most often compared, recorded his 1,000 point on Jan. 11 in his 880th career game.
Of course, Crosby would have joined the exclusive 1,000-point club long ago had he not missed 167 games due to, most notably, multiple concussions, a high-ankle sprain and a broken jaw. A lockout-shortened 2012-13 season removed another 34 games from the record as well.
It’s also worth noting that some of these injuries came at times when Crosby was rolling. The concussion in January 2011, which knocked him out of the lineup for almost a year, happened at a time when he was notching 0.78 goals per game and 1.61 points per game that season. He was the undisputed best player in the world. Same thing when he broke his jaw late in March 2013. Crosby had 56 points through 36 games in the truncated season and held a 10-point lead in the scoring race.
Considering Crosby’s bad luck with injuries, it’s amazing he’s on the verge of reaching this milestone so quickly. Given his performance when he has been on the ice, perhaps it's not all that surprising though. And with a league-leading 30 goals and 59 points, one behind Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid, Crosby is looking like he has another impressive run in him this season.