NHL.com goes Behind the Numbers to highlight significant themes and statistical trends. This week, the top three active statistical centers since the start of the 2010-11 NHL season are examined using factors such as points by situation, face-off winning percentage, special teams usage and puck possession metrics.
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Bergeron ranks 13th at the position with 589 points (253 goals, 336 assists) and tied for 16th in power-play points (164) with Jason Spezza of the Toronto Maple Leafs over the same span. Bergeron's point totals are impressive considering his role on the Bruins penalty kill, where his 1,380:02 minutes of shorthanded time on ice rank eighth among active centers. He's also relied on heavily in the face-off circle, where he leads the position with 9,075 face-off wins and a 58.5 percent face-off winning percentage. Bergeron's two-way play is exemplified by his plus-2,843 shot attempts differential (SAT), which leads skaters since 2010-11.
Video: ARI@BOS: Bergeron scores PPG in 2nd period
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
Kopitar ranks seventh among active centers with 665 points (220 goals, 445 assists), fifth in even-strength points (440), and eighth in power-play points (211) since 2010-11. His 21:06 average time on ice per game leads the position among those to play at least 600 games, and his 1,488:35 played shorthanded is fourth with the same parameters. Kopitar's 7,943 face-off wins are fourth and his face-off winning percentage (53.5 percent) is 14th among centers with the same qualifiers. He is second behind Bergeron with a plus-2,204 SAT among centers.
Video: LAK@VGK: Kopitar stakes Kings to early lead
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Crosby leads the position with 757 points (279 goals, 478 assists) in 613 games, 16 points more than Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers. Crosby has played 150 fewer games than Giroux since the beginning of the 2010-11 season. What separates the Penguins captain from other active centers is his play at even strength, where he leads the position since 2010-11 with 505 points, and his 193 even-strength goals are fifth (John Tavares of the Toronto Maple Leafs leads with 229). Crosby has taken the fifth most face-offs (14,056); Bergeron leads with 15,505. Crosby's 52.5 percent face-off winning percentage ranks 18th at the position among those to play at least 600 games, and his plus-1,733 SAT rating since 2010-11 ranks sixth.
The winner is ...
Crosby's production, despite missing large chunks of time with injuries, is impressive. But Bergeron is extremely well-rounded with point production, face-off wins, the ability to kill penalties, and the best puck possession metrics. Kopitar gets close to matching the Bruins veteran in these areas, but Bergeron takes the honor of the best center of the past decade based on stats here.
Video: PIT@FLA: Crosby redirects McCann's pass home for PPG