With only five days remaining until just another regular season gamethe most heavily publicized game of the year, Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins fans are eagerly waiting to see what kind of game the 2011 Winter Classic will be. Will we see a hard fought game with loads of hitting, scrapping and penalties, or a skill game with nifty passing plays and highlight-reel goals? No matter what, one thing is a near certainty:
Sidney Crosby probably won't be getting any penalties.
Ok, I know. I'm probably a biased, conspiracy-theory loving Caps fan who has it in for Sid the Kid and all things Penguins. But the statistics prove to be quite interesting and at least a little thought-provoking. Lets take a look.
In his career, Sidney Crosby has played 470 games, including the playoffs. In those games, he's accumulated a total of 421 penalty minutes, or approximately .9 penalty minutes per game. But how do those minutes break down by opponent? Here the breakdown by team for the whole league.
There are only three teams against whom Sid averages more than a penalty per game: Florida, Vancouver and Minnesota (however he's only played 5 games a piece against the Canucks and Wild, so the sample size is small). On the other end of the PIMs per game are Edmonton (4 games, zero penalties), Buffalo (17 games, 10 penalty minutes) and, smack dab between the two, your Washington Capitals with 8 Sid penalty minutes in 27 combined regular season and playoff games.
Considering the hard-fought nature of the Caps/Pens rivalry, it's shocking to see such a low number of calls against Crosby. If you remove teams he's played fewer than 10 times in his career, the Caps would be dead last in goading Crosby into penalties. The next closest, Buffalo, gets twice as many PIM/G out of Crosby per game than the Caps.
So, if on Saturday you happen to have a ticket at Heinz Field and #87 takes a penalty against the Caps, take a picture.
It's a rare occurrence.