Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 3/21/13
When the Pittsburgh Penguins suit up Friday night, they’ll be aiming for their 11th straight win this season. While they seem to get overshadowed in the national media by stories like the Montreal Canadiens’ surprise season and the Chicago Blackhawks’ record-breaking start, the NHL oddsmakers at Bovada aren’t overlooking this team. The Pens are now at 5-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup, which makes them the Eastern Conference favorite, and only second in line to Chicago’s 9-2 odds in the entire league. The Pens sit atop the Eastern Conference standings and it’s no surprise that Sidney Crosby is fueling his team’s success. The Pens always play well when he produces, but it’s worth noting that Crosby’s season is not just good by his usual benchmarks — it’s good by historical standards. To date, Crosby has collected 50 points in just 31 games, giving him a 1.613 points per game average. For him, that’s nothing too out of the ordinary as he finished with a 1.610 average in the 2010-11 season. However, if he finished at his current pace or better, it would be a new career personal best. When you start to match his numbers up against the best all-time, Crosby’s season would be in the top 90 points-per-game outputs in a single season ever. While top 90 doesn’t sound too impressive, let’s give that some perspective. Wayne Gretzky’s magical 2.770 season in 1983-84 is virtually untouchable. When you look further down the list, you’ll notice that each of the top 22 points-per-game seasons each averaged a player that produced at least 2.0 points-per-game. The NHL has changed so much that it’s hard to believe anyone in the top 20 will be challenged. That would mean someone would have to approach 160 points playing a full 82-game season. Last year, Evgeni Malkin won the Hart Trophy with 109 points and no player in the 2000’s has topped 125. Delving further, what makes Crosby’s season so special is that only one player has produced a points-per-game season better than his in the 2000’s: Mario Lemiux in 2000-01 (1.767). As a matter of fact, to find the most recent time that somebody not named Lemieux bested Crosby’s current pace, you’d have to go all the way back to 1995-96 with Jaromir Jagr’s impressive 1.817 points-per-game average. Crosby is currently in line to register just over 77 points in the shortened 48-game season. Last season, only 11 players had more than 77 points and that was with a full 82 games. As long as Crosby finishes with an average of 1.596 or better, he’ll end up with his second entry in the Top 100. Without question, he’s having a year for the record books. Hockey’s brightest stars have their eyes on the prize. It’s time to shoot and score with NHL Props at Bovada.
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