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NHL Star Power Index: Sidney Crosby continues to dominate, Connor McDavid pacing the Oilers

Welcome to the NHL Star Power Index: A weekly gauge of the players who are controlling substantial buzz around the league. When a player is included on this list it may not be a good thing — it means that they are capturing a large amount of the hockey world’s attention.

These players are in no particular order when it comes to the amount of buzz that they’re creating. We’ll revisit the Star Power Index every week throughout the regular season.

Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that Sidney Crosby is 36 years old considering the amount of talent that he still displays on the ice.

In Monday’s 5-2 win against the New York Rangers, the Pittsburgh Penguins star registered two goals and an assist, joining some elite company in the process. With his three-point performance, Crosby clinched his 19th point-per-game season of his NHL career, and tied Wayne Gretzky for the most such seasons in NHL history. 

It was just the latest stellar performance for Crosby, who continues to keep the Penguins alive in the playoff race despite the team trading away star winger Jake Guentzel at the deadline. Crosby has tallied four goals and four assists over his last four games.

Crosby also scored a pair of goals in Tuesday’s 6-3 win against the New Jersey Devils.

At the 6:48 mark of the third period, the Penguins showcased some sensational puck movement to set up a goal from Crosby. After keeping the puck in the offensive zone, forward Michael Bunting skated in and dished it off to teammate Bryan Rust. Upon receiving the puck, Rust snapped a pass from the face-off circle over to Evgeni Malkin. The puck went off of Malkin in front, and Crosby was able to deposit it past Devils goaltender Jake Allen.

With the goal, Crosby extended his point streak to six games and has tallied five goals and nine assists over that stretch. His 14 points rank first in the NHL since March 24 when the streak began.

The goal ended up being huge considering that it cut the deficit to 3-2 early in the third period. Pittsburgh racked up five goals in the third period when it was all said and done to come away with a 6-3 win.

Crosby added an empty-net goal late in the third period to help put the game out of reach.

It’s impressive that Crosby is still able to play at such an elite level even at this stage of his career. The Penguins star clearly still has an abundance of great hockey left in the tank, and should continue to thrive as he approaches 40 years old.

Connor McDavid tallied a career-high 153 points (64 goals & 89 assists) during the 2022-23 season, but is enjoying quite an impressive campaign in 2023-24.

McDavid may not be as lethal from a goal-scoring standpoint as he only has 29 goals up to this point. However, his 126 points (29 goals & 97 assists) is the second-highest point total of his legendary career.

The Edmonton Oilers star has registered a point in eight of his last nine games, and has racked up three goals and four assists in his last three games alone. McDavid tallied two goals and an assist in a 6-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.

In the opening period of Saturday’s contest, McDavid produced yet another highlight reel goal that hockey fans have been accustomed to seeing in recent years. 

At the 14:15 mark of the first period, Ducks defenseman William Lagesson was attempting to keep the puck in the offensive zone when McDavid was able to knock it free, and it was off to the races. McDavid skated into the zone, went around Bo Groulx, and flipped a shot past goaltender John Gibson.

McDavid also was able to find the back of the net in the second period while the Oilers were on the power play.

Very few players operate the two-man game better than McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and that was showcased firsthand on this particular play. McDavid handed the puck off to Draisaitl, and Draisaitl gave the puck back to McDavid in the slot for a tremendous goal to give Edmonton a commanding 4-0 lead.

Despite the likes of Nikita Kucherov and Nathan MacKinnon putting up superhuman seasons, McDavid is right on their tails as he trails by just one point from the NHL lead in that category. McDavid being in the conversation for the Hart Trophy is a foregone conclusion on a yearly basis, and continues to take the league by storm.

The Vancouver Canucks may be struggling as a team as of late, but star defenseman Quinn Hughes has been a huge producer on the offensive end of the ice.

Hughes currently leads all NHL defensemen in points (86) and assists (70), while being tied for third among NHL defensemen in goals (16). The Canucks blue-liner also has registered at least a point in five of his last six games.

Hughes recently tallied two goals in Tuesday’s 6-3 loss against the Vegas Golden Knights. It marked his second multi-goal game of the 2023-24 season for the Canucks star.

The 24-year-old got into the scoring column at the 6:13 mark of the second period when he attempted to start a rally for the Canucks. 

Hughes possessed the puck line at the blue line, and dished it off to teammate Conor Garland. Shortly after receiving the puck, Garland gave the puck right back to Hughes, who snapped a shot past Golden Knights goaltender Logan Thompson. Hughes’ goal cut the deficit to 4-2 at the time.

In the third period, Hughes was able to get into the scoring act yet again. In the opening two minutes of the frame, Hughes obtained the puck off of a hand-off pass from teammate Vasily Podkolzin, and proceeded to do the rest himself. Hughes glided his way back out towards the point, and ultimately was able to fire it past Thompson.

Hughes’s two-goal performance wasn’t enough to bring the Canucks back in this game as they fell 6-3 at the hands of the Golden Knights. Still, it was just the latest showing of just how gifted Hughes can be from an offensive standpoint.

Logan Thompson suffered a lower-body injury late in the regular season in 2023-24, and ultimately wasn’t able to participate in the Vegas Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup run. With Adin Hill dealing with a similar ailment this season, Thompson has thrived as the team’s top goaltender.

Thompson has tallied a 23-12-5 record to go along with a 2.64 goals-against-average and a .911 save percentage in 42 games this season.

The Golden Knights netminder has been thriving in the crease as of late. Thompson has put together a 6-0-0 record, a 1.29 goals-against-average, and a .952 save percentage over his last seven games, six of which he drew the start. 

In Thompson’s most recent outing, the Vegas goalie turned aside 27 of the 30 shots that he faced against the Vancouver Canucks. Prior to surrendering three goals in that contest, Thompson had allowed just one goal apiece in his previous sit games. 

Thompson is playing with supreme confidence for a Golden Knights team that has won six of their last seven games, and looks primed to qualify for the postseason. If Thompson can continue to provide this kind of stability in between the pipes, it’s very possible that Vegas could make a run at the franchise’s second consecutive Stanley Cup.

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