It was the Sidney Crosby show for Canada
The 2015-16 campaign was a tale of two different seasons for Sidney Crosby.
There was the first season -- the bad one -- that covered the first 20 games where he had only 11 points and wasn’t even one of the top 120 scorers in the NHL.
It was at this point that his status as the NHL’s best player was questioned (it shouldn’t have been) and there was an endless “what’s wrong with Sidney Crosby” debate going on.
Then there was the second season -- the good one! -- that covered the remaining 62 games of the regular season where he had 74 points and was the leading scorer in the NHL during that stretch. He continued that level of play in the playoffs by playing a dominant two-way game and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy to help the Pittsburgh Penguins win their fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history, and the second of the Crosby era.
That Sidney Crosby showed up on Saturday night in Canada’s 6-0 win over the Czech Republic in their 2016 World Cup opener.
Crosby only played 13 minutes in the win, but he made the most of those minutes, scoring a goal, adding two assists, recording five shots on goal and finishing as a plus-4. He was, quite simply, the best player on the ice every time he took a shift.
He spent most of his night on a line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, a trio that was dominant throughout the pre-tournament games and overwhelmed the Czech Republic on Saturday.
All three players scored a goal in the first period, with Crosby opening the scoring mid-way through the period from below the goal line. This is the angle he scored from.
He assisted on Marchand’s goal later in the period and was also on the ice for Bergeron’s buzzer-beating goal to close out the period.
He completed his scoring when he set up Joe Thornton’s second period goal with this incredible backhand pass through the slot.
When it comes to a full 82-game NHL schedule you probably should not expect Crosby to consistently score like he did four or five years ago, simply because he isn’t in his mid-20s anymore, the age where players tend to score at their peak levels. But he is still the best player in the game and is still going to have games like he had on Saturday where he not only takes over and dominates, but puts a bunch of points on the board.
Canada already has the best roster in the tournament on paper. When they also have the best player in hockey playing at the level he was at on Saturday, it is going to make them extremely difficult to beat.