Daily Debate: Can anyone challenge Sidney Crosby, 50-in-50 feat?
Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun debate whether anyone can challenge Crosby's run and if we'll ever see a 50-in-50 performance again (give us your take here):
Burnside: Greetings, my friend. Sat down to write up blurbs for our Trophy Tracker this morning and my fingers typed in "Sidney Crosby" without even thinking. Even with the Pens losing in Philadelphia on Tuesday to end their 12-game winning streak, Crosby added two more assists to stretch his points streak to 19 games. He's starting to run away with the scoring race. Talked to Bob Errey not long ago (he's seen every game Crosby has played since coming in the league) and he thinks this is as good as Crosby has ever played.
LeBrun: It's a one-man race right now. Here's what's really telling to me. During separate conversations with Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky last week, in my mind the greatest players of all time along with Gordie Howe, both eventually steered the conversations toward Crosby without my prompting; both legends are thoroughly impressed with what Crosby is doing this season. If that's not high praise, what is?
Crosby is on pace for 135 points, which would be the most in the NHL since another legend, Mario Lemieux, put up 161 in 1995-96. Sid is also on pace for 66 goals, which would be the most since Super Mario's 69 goals that same season. Ovechkin's amazing 2007-08 season produced 65 goals. Either way, it's a target that's going to be mighty daunting for Crosby to match or surpass.
Burnside: Funny how we were all engrossed in the idea that Stamkos was going to make a charge for the almost mythical 50 goals in 50 games, but he went six games without a goal and now would need 26 goals in 20 games to get there. The numbers are as daunting for Crosby, who has played two more games than Stamkos as of Wednesday morning. Crosby would need 24 goals in 18 games to meet the magical mark. Just don't see it happening.
If these two guys can't do it, does it suggest we'll never see another 50-in-50 performance again? But the guy I am most interested in is Ovechkin. A lot of discussion surrounding the Caps' struggles of late and the fact Ovechkin's offensive numbers are well off his lofty standards. Still, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him go on a tear, and I will be shocked if Ovechkin doesn't fight his way back into Hart Trophy talk before the season ends.
LeBrun: There's a reason 50 in 50 from the start of the season has been done only eight times in NHL history by only five players -- Gretzky (three times), Brett Hull (twice), Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux and Maurice "Rocket" Richard, the man who first reached the benchmark. But I wonder if it's the last time you'll see Gretzky talk about 50 in 50 because after he granted interviews to both myself and Darren Dreger of TSN, Stamkos went into a funk for six games. NHLers are superstitious that way and Gretzky was cheering for Stamkos to keep it up.
As for Ovechkin, rare for you and I to agree on something, but I also have a gut feeling he is on the verge of a massive offensive explosion. Might be just about time to get it going with the Winter Classic around the corner.
Burnside: What has been most impressive about Crosby's run thus far, and what may allow others to get back into the race, is how much he is doing solo. He has 26 more points than teammate Kris Letang, second on the Pens in points, and 16 more goals than former scoring champ Evgeni Malkin. Now, maybe Malkin gets healthy and goes crazy; he's got the tools. But, if not, then you have to think guys like Stamkos and Martin St. Louis in Tampa, the Sedin twins in Vancouver, Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin in Washington, will -- by sheer dint of having someone to lean on -- be able to close the gap on Crosby. If not, well, then we are truly looking at a season for the ages from Mr. Crosby.
LeBrun: And don't forget Jordan Staal hasn't played a game this season, while Malkin has slumped at times when he wasn't injured himself. Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis are solid NHLers, but they're not star-caliber linemates. I think that's what makes Crosby's Hart Trophy campaign such a lock through 32 games. What do the next 50 games have in store? Can't wait to find out.