Assessing Sidney Crosby vs. Nathan MacKinnon, Round 1

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon followed similar paths to the NHL, which is a well-documented narrative.

Both are from Cole Harbour, N.S., both attended Shattuck St. Mary’s prep school in Faribault, Minn., both were star players in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and when it came time, both were taken first overall in their respective draft years, Crosby in 2005 and MacKinnon in 2013.

They first met at Stanfield International Airport in Halifax when they were young; a then-seven-year-old MacKinnon was in awe of the 15-year-old Crosby, who became his idol growing up.

Both men won their share of awards while playing in junior, and both played for Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships, though Crosby did it as both a 16 and 17-year-old.

Crosby had better offensive numbers than MacKinnon in their two QMJHL seasons and won more individual awards, but MacKinnon was the player to watch in being named most valuable player in the Halifax Mooseheads’ Memorial Cup victory in 2013.

More recently, Crosby and MacKinnon have been shooting commercials and videos together, including a water bottle trick shot challenge and a vignette about growing up in Cole Harbour.

Wednesday night marked the first showdown between Crosby and MacKinnon in the NHL, as MacKinnon’s Colorado Avalanche traveled to the Consol Energy Center in a battle of teams off to 7-1 starts.

The Statistical Breakdown

Crosby is the best player in the world right now, and his start to the season shows as much. He came into the game with a five-point lead over Joe Pavelski and Henrik Sedin in NHL scoring, with 17 points in eight games, an average of 2.13 points per game in 22:07 of ice time per game. He came in leading the NHL in both goals (7) and assists (10), and he’s had points in every game so far. Going into the game, Crosby averaged 6.36 points per 60 minutes of ice time.

Going into his ninth game (though that’s irrelevant since he’s staying in the NHL), MacKinnon had gotten off to a solid start with seven points (one goal, six assists) in eight games, good for a share of second on the Avalanche behind Matt Duchene. What makes it an even more impressive start is that he’s done it while playing in Patrick Roy’s bottom six, averaging roughly 13:48 per game. In terms of points per game per 60 minutes, MacKinnon clocked in at 3.796 points per game.

For what it’s worth, Crosby had two goals and nine assists for 11 points in his first eight NHL games back in 2005-06 while averaging about 16:34 in ice time per game. Looking at it from the advanced stats perspective, Crosby averaged 4.52 points per 60 minutes, almost a full point per 60 minutes ahead of MacKinnon’s pace at the same time.

But enough of the comparisons, let’s take a look back at the game itself.

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