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Crosby claims his success is due solely to team

by Dan Rosen /
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby wants you to believe that he's tearing up the NHL right now because of his teammates -- more specifically, his linemates, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis.

"Kuny has made some great plays and Dups is forechecking and creating loose pucks," the always team-first Crosby said Wednesday prior to extending his point-scoring streak to 17 games with a pair of goals in Pittsburgh's 5-2 win over Toronto on Wednesday. "Hockey is a team game. That never changes. You can't have success without your line, without your team."

You know what also never changes? The Penguins can't have success without No. 87 doing what he's doing right now.

Evgeni Malkin is hurt, but even when he was healthy he wasn't playing like the world-class center he's known to be. Jordan Staal hasn't played a game yet this season. Kunitz and Dupuis are nice players that probably do enough to help Crosby be better, but they're not exactly All-Star material and they would tell you that themselves.

And yet the Penguins have won 11 straight to vault to the top of the NHL standings with 42 points.

No forward on the Penguins has as many as half of Crosby's League-best 50 points. No player on the Penguins has even a third of the amount of goals Crosby has scored, which, by the way, is a League-best 26. He leads the team in shots (120), but also in shooting percentage (21.7).

"Kuny has made some great plays and Dups is forechecking and creating loose pucks. Hockey is a team game. That never changes. You can't have success without your line, without your team."
-- Sidney Crosby

And yet the Penguins have won 11 straight to vault to the top of the NHL standings.

Want to talk faceoffs? OK, we can go there, too.

Nobody on the Penguins has won as many as half as Crosby has (402). Nobody has taken as many as half, either (719). Crosby, by the way, leads the NHL in both categories.

He was 19-7 Wednesday night.

So Crosby might want you to believe it's all about his teammates, but come on -- we all know the truth.

He's playing out of his mind right now, and therefore so are the Penguins.

"His highlight reel is long, but the consistency with which he's playing, there's no cheat, there's no holes, there's no 'on his own page,'" Penguins coach Dan Bylsma told reporters Tuesday. "It's within the structure of our team and how we want to play. And he seems to be finding that consistently night in and night out. That's the uniqueness of what we're seeing right now."

Crosby is the talk of the NHL. Even in Palm Beach, Fla., this week at the Board of Governors meeting, he was a topic.

Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman, who knows a thing or two about playing the game the right way, called Crosby the perfect role model for young people.

"Here we have one of the best players in our game, a young guy just driven to get better and be good in all areas," Yzerman said. "He's so important because he can play in all situations. He can score the goal, he can set up the goal, he can win the faceoff, he'll block the shot -- how valuable is that?"

How valuable? Yzerman knows you can measure it in wins.

The Penguins have won 11 in a row and they haven't lost in regulation in nearly a month -- Nov. 10 against Boston. They're 13-0-1 since then and 14-2-1 since Crosby started a scoring streak that has seen him put up 20 goals and 15 assists in 17 games.

Twenty goals and 35 points in 17 games. Measure that against the entire League and you'll find only one team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, that has a player with more points and goals for the entire season.

Steven Stamkos has on 21 goals and 40 points, but he's been stuck on that for three games. He hasn't scored a goal in six.

"It's as good as I've seen any hockey player play," Dupuis said of Crosby. "He's on top of his game, not even putting points on the board but blocking shots, winning faceoffs, playing in his own zone. Obviously the leadership comes with it when you're Sidney Crosby, when you have the 'C' on your jersey, guys are following your example."

Crosby knows he sets the tone for his team. He's basically set the tone for every team he's ever played on in any season. But he'll never tell you that.

His drive to be the best player in the world is strong because he wants his team to be the best team in the world.

"I try to be my best," Crosby said. "Some guys choose to work on specific things and really make sure they have those skills perfected. Other guys try to work on all types of different things and might not be the very best at them, but they bring a lot of different things. So it depends on the player. For me, yeah, there are things I'm always working on that I feel are important to me having success and the team having success. I don't think that will ever change."

Neither will his attitude.

Complain all you want about the answers he gives to questions pertaining to himself, but Crosby never will have you believe he knows he's playing like the best in the world, let alone on his own team. It's not his way and not his style even if the results suggest believing anything else would be absurd.

"I've executed well around the net, but I don't feel like I've done that much different, to be honest," Crosby said. "We've all benefitted from playing some great hockey as a group. I've capitalized on the chances that I've gotten."

Sure. That simple.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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