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Sidney Crosby off to ferocious start

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Believe it or not, the NHL season is already almost 20 percent over. Most teams have already played 15 or 16 of their 82 game seasons, making the hockey regular season a fifth over already.

It is around this time that the early season luck passes and the heavyweights begin jostling for position in the elite categories. One familiar name is hovering squarely around the top: Sidney Crosby.

The 29-year-old captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins is fresh off a torrent of team success. The Penguins won the most recent Stanley Cup, Crosby collected the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs most valuable player and then he lead Team Canada to gold at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, where he was also voted the most valuable player.

But it is worth remembering that the 2015-2016 regular season had more than a few stretches where Crosby felt positively human. The superstar was humbled on several occasions. He ended up with 85 points, one more than his total in 2014-2015, but many analysts wondered out loud about what was up.

While his playoff play initially dispelled any worries of serious problems, this regular season brought them rushing back as Crosby missed the first six games with a concussion that he suffered during the World Cup of Hockey.

Those who follow hockey will know that Crosby was almost forced to retire after suffering a series of debilitating concussions in 2011, right as he was putting up some of the most impressive numbers of his career. While he recovered admirably and has since won more scoring titles, more MVPs and even won another Stanley Cup, to hear that Crosby’s head was injured was worrisome to many fans.

But after those six games off, Crosby has wasted no time finding his regular season footing. Despite having only played nine games, Crosby is one of the leaders for goals in the NHL with 10. That’s one goal behind rookie Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets, who has 11 goals in 16 games.

Crosby has a point in all but one game this season — a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers — and has tallied multiple points in five of those games.

With the captain scoring at such a prodigious rate, it is no surprise that the Penguins are also flourishing as a result. Since Crosby’s return, the team has only lost twice and only one of those was in regulation.

The Penguins will be playing the New York Rangers, who are tied with the Penguins atop the Metropolitan Division, twice toward the end of November. These games could serve as a preview for another heated playoff matchup, but also could highlight how well Crosby plays against top-tier competition.

It is early in the season, but if Crosby continues to produce at this rate, do not be surprised if the league’s most talented player picks up some more hardware as the Penguins make another deep playoff push.

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