SHOOT!

Two games into Team Canada’s schedule at the Olympics, I could possibly be forgiven for believing that Sidney Crosby’s biggest flaw is that he doesn’t shoot enough. Veteran commentator Pierre McGuire has repeated this statement over and over again, praising Crosby’s shot (when he elects to use it), and reminding us that Crosby has 42 goals in the NHL this year and he didn’t get those by passing the puck.

Personally, I haven’t seen any problems with Crosby’s willingness to shoot the puck, and the more McGuire talks about it the more I mentally file him in with that group of fans who scream “Shoot!” at the top of their lungs for three quarters of every power play. Now, it’s possible that my eyes are deceiving me, so I’m going to do some quick comparisons.

The first comparison I’m going to make is between Crosby and his wingers. Crosby has played a total of 35:20 so far in the tournament, and has nine shots. Rick Nash has played 31:52 and has eight shots. The combination of Patrice Bergeron and Jarome Iginla have played 43:47 and have seven shots. Or, to break things down a little further, here are the shots per minute ratios of each of these four players:

Player Shots TOI (Min.) Shots/Min.
Sidney Crosby 9 35.30 0.255
Rick Nash 8 31.87 0.251
Jarome Iginla 5 21.85 0.229
Patrice Bergeron 2 21.93 0.091

These aren’t exactly hesitant shooters Crosby is lining up with, particularly not the top two players. Rick Nash has a ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy in his collection and is coming off a 40-goal season. Jarome Iginla has two of those, and has 35-or-more goals in each of the last seven seasons.

It’s also well above Crosby’s NHL pace, as we might expect given that his opponents haven’t exactly been of NHL calibre. With Pittsburgh this season, Crosby has managed 0.170 shots per minute, a drop-off of one-third from his Olympic shot rate.

In my opinion, when a commentator like McGuire moans that Crosby needs to shoot more, it’s a null statement. His job is to fill the air, and that is what he is doing, even if it means spewing nonsense. In this case, he’s latched on to the perception of Crosby as a playmaker and twisted it into a negative so that he has something to talk about.

I don’t think this is a terribly surprising statement: Crosby’s currently tied for the NHL lead in goals, led the league in playoff goals last season and has never scored fewer than 33 over the course of an entire season. He knows when to shoot.