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A Final Look at Bedard and The Blackhawks vs Crosby’s ’05-’06 Penguins



The rebuild comparison after 20 games and then 36 had some similar returns. Even at 55 games things were similar. So how do Connor Bedard and the Blackhawks stack up against Sidney Crosby and his 2005-06 Pittsburgh Penguins now?

Quite similiarly. In an interesting twist, the Blackhawks ended up winning more games in regulation (23 to 22) but fell short in points with 52 compared to Pittsburgh’s 58 points.

So more regulation wins–but less points. The comparison was apt. Now, what can be learned?

Deeper Dive Sees A Discrepancy in Goal Scoring

The Blackhawks were besieged by injury and couldn’t find a way to score goals when Connor Bedard went down with injury. The worst stretch for Chicago, in fact, was without Bedard both by record and also in scoring.

Pittsburgh had issues with scoring as well but outscored the Blackhawks by nearly 70 goals (244-179). It again doubles down on just how difficult goal scoring was for Chicago.

But a look at the underlying numbers:

Leading scorer: Crosby 39-63-102; Bedard 22-39-61
20-goal scorers: Pittsburgh (4); Chicago (2)
Scorers with 10+ Goals: Pittsburgh (9); Chicago (5)
Scorers with 30+ points: Pittsburgh (6); Chicago (6)
Scorers with 40+ points: Pittsburgh (5); Chicago (2)
Scorers with 50+ points: Pittsburgh (3); Chicago (2)
Goals by defenseman: Pittsburgh (31); Chicago (19)

Of those 19 goals from defensemen, Seth Jones was 42% of those goals with eight. Pittsburgh had eight defensemen find the scoresheet in 2005-06 while the Blackhawks saw Jones, Alex Vlasic, Kevin Korchinski, Nikita Zaitsev, and Connor Murphy all find the back of the net. Korchinski and Jones combined for 68% of the goals from defensemen.

As written about exhaustively, finding players to boost goal scoring has to be priority number one for Kyle Davidson this offseason.

Lessons for Blackhawks and Bedard from Crosby and the Penguins

The records were close and so were the points. But the Penguins found themselves in the playoffs the following season. But in a strange coincidence, the Penguins ended up with the second overall pick just a season after taking a generational player. Those astute Blackhawks fans remember the Penguins took Jordan Staal.

Chicago took a guy by the name of Jonathan Toews. Staal would make an immediate impact, tallying 29 goals his rookie season in Pittsburgh. They took a guy who could contribute right away–and did.

So there’s lesson #1: The Blackhawks second overall pick should consider taking a guy who can play immediately. While the Ivan DemidovArtyom Levshunov debate rages on, a point made here has been building out from the blue line. Levshunov had 35 points (9-26) in 38 games, and would be just the player who could do so. He would also bolster the blue line, giving Davidson a chance to go shopping for impactful forwards.

Lesson two: Surround your generational talent with more. Pittsburgh had the advantage of adding Staal and Evgeni Malkin, both rookies who were a massive infusion of talent. But the scoring was spread out by younger players with not nearly as many veterans as one would expect. Six of the ten top point contributors were 25 or younger. The top two were Crosby and Malkin respectively. For those arguing for Demidov, there’s the strong argument.

But it would have to wait at least a season, pushing Chicago’s timeline back a season.

One other interesting note: Marc-Andre Fleury backstopped the Penguins playoff run in his third season with the Penguins. His strong numbers buoyed the Penguins rise.

Petr Mrazek was absolutely clutch for the Blackhawks and another strong season from him, with that improved roster, will help the Blackhawks rise, too. But he needs a stronger backup to help ease the load, too.

The comparisons are certainly there and can provide lessons for the rebuilding Blackhawks. But again, it means some creativity and assertiveness from Davidson to be sure they take a leap forward like the 2006-07 Pittsburgh Penguins did.

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