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.

Comments (14)

  1. As I say all the time…..Mcguire is an idiot. He finds flaws that aren’t there on the stars and skills that don’t exist on the average players. Canada is tired of listening to him, he’s got to go

  2. Ya Pierre is terrible.. can we start a petition or something in order to have this problem fixed by like oh… i dunno.. NEXT GAME! lol. Watched the game at a bar and actually didn’t mind when they turned down game volume in favour of music… which I am usually the first to object to! It’s a real shame that this horrible broadcast team has been given the priveledge of covering this tournament.. they are worse than most of FSN’s efforts… everyone who used to complain about CBC is now getting what they wished for in spades! Nick Kypreos sucks terribly as well, why we are forced to hear what he thinks between periods is beyond me?!

  3. Howedy:

    Did you catch the Ferraro/Cuthbert tandem on the first Russia game? Very, very good. Cuthbert’s a known quantity and has been excellent for years, but Ray Ferraro may be my favourite colour guy.

  4. The numbers don’t lie, but then again – Crosby isn’t facing NHL competition, and has passed in key situations where he had a great scoring opportunity. I have to say that McGuire is a goof, but the Canadians in general need to stop trying to make all-star plays, and start playing simple hockey.

  5. no was playing shinny, could only watch periodically. Why not shift that team to Cananda games?

  6. I think a better measure would be how many times did Crosby (and others) choose to make a cute passing play over a quality shot. I think that is all McGuire and folks are saying. That, even though he is getting shots, he could have even more… and that may have resultd in the important goal… but instead passed from wing to wing or tried to squeeze it between too many sticks and skates, or tried to make an extra deak…

    Credit to the Swiss cheesse for their quickness on the puck, battling, taking away passing lanes, great sticks, etc. Looked very frustrating to play against.

    Canada was stiff and in spite of what they say were playing like they thought they could dance around and make the pretty plays they made against Norge. I would love to see the beauty of those plays but if you’re being picked off everywhere, then……

    I thought some of the movement by Canada was creative but then at times I wondered if it was just that they were lost. Pronger and Neid looked tired, the rookies looked like rookies.

    Brodeur looked like Mr. Nonchalant. Made some key saves but dude…. focus

    Babs needs to solidify some lines and some strategies quick. No point in trying out all kinds of combos to see if there is some mystical chemistry…. stick them together at the start and keep them so that they DEVELOP “chemistry”. They are the best in the world, they can do it..

  7. On the shot vs. pass thing: seriously, Canada had 45 shots. That’s more than enough. This isn’t a lineup featuring Eric Nystrom or Zack Stortini or Colten Orr; these are talented guys and they need to make skill plays.

    I know every commentator out there loves to say ‘just simplify it, get the puck on net’ but Iginla was bang on the other night when he said that they couldn’t just take shots from bad angles.

    There’s no point in taking skilled players if we just want to see them blast it from everywhere. The Jason Blake/Patrick O’Sullivan model of goal scoring isn’t as effective as patience and creativity.

  8. Howedy: I wish they would. They moved Cuthbert but I’d love to see Ferraro in place of McGuire.

  9. You and me both Jon… I hated McGuire even as a Flames fan when he used to hump Phaneufs leg every broadcast haha! Now it is even spiraling more out of control, maybe if they just limited his sugar intake on game day or something! Hopefully someone calling the shots is reading all this because it is not unique to your blog! He should be a WWE ring announcer or something. Certainly someone more knowledgeable can be found. My circle of friends have been mocking his every word for years now, not even funny anymore though. Panel is nails on the chalkboard as well, how do they decide on these guys?

  10. Mcguire irritates me,he is as annoying as they come,i am sure he will tell us over and over and over how ovie is the strongest,hardest hitting power forward the world has ever seen,and slobber in his praise,and if i hear him say identify one more time i will rip my hair out.I think mcguire will be cheering for USA and Russia.

  11. Oh and Mcguires monster will be ovie or backstrom or backes lol.

  12. @Willis: Of course they had lots of shots. That’s to be expected regardless. But it is frustrating when players pass up legitimate shots in favour of an extra pass. (Something you see a disproportionate amount of in games against bad teams and on 5-on-3s, I’ve noticed.) That’s no excuse for blowing out of proportion in his McGuirian way, but I do understand the principle of what he’s trying to say here.

  13. Whether you’ve had 5 or 45 shots doesn’t matter. If you have a very good scoring chance right now — because you are Sydney Crosby and you really can actually score on a shot from there (i.e., you are not “flick-shot Blakie” who could not score on an empty net) — then you should shoot…. and score.

    Most of your posts seem to be straw-man arguments.

    Leafs have proven you can take 45 shots at net every game and still be at rock bottom. The argument is not that you have to take a zillion stupid shots from everywhere. Only that you should not pass up a chance to score when you actually have a very good chance to score.

    Just watched Ovechkin on a two-on-one with Semin. Ovie racing down and the wing arrives at a place where he has scored a million but instead of shhoting elects to make a pass across to Semin…. who fumbles. If you’re forty year old Federov who hasn’t scored from there since the 90s, sure, make the pass to Semin. But if you’re Ovie……

  14. I disagree – McGuire may be innaccurate of his assessment of Crosby’s willingness to shoot the puck, but regardless Crosby’s decision making has been poor. As someone above said, it looks like he’s trying to make the cute play at times instead of the quality play.

    A’la Hemsky. Who also posted very good shots on goal numbers over the last season and a half or so.

    I think Crosby should be criticized for his decision making not for his willingness to shoot, just as Hemsky should be the majority of the time.

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