"Oh no. Another concussion?"
Almost everyone watching was thinking it in Game 3 when Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby tried to sit up, a grimacing wince of pain on his face, after Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen cross-checked him in the head.
The fears were confirmed on Tuesday. Crosby suffered the fourth diagnosed concussion of his NHL career and it will leave him out of Game 4 Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.
Big blow for the Pens. And for hockey fans.
“I still think he’s the best there is because of what he does for the players around him, which is the biggest thing about this injury. How does it affect the rest of the lineup?” asks NESN’s Mike Cole (@MikeColeNESN), who has seen plenty of Crosby up close while covering the Boston Bruins in recent seasons. “Jake Guentzel’s been awesome, but what will he be able to do without Crosby? He just makes everyone better.”
So can the Penguins win without their best player and two-time Hart Trophy winner? And if so, how much is he worth to the odds?
The short answer to the first question is yes, the Penguins can win without Crosby. They just have a hard time doing it against the Capitals without him.
Pittsburgh is 90-65 SU (58.1%) without Crosby in the lineup since 2006-07. But they are 0-5-2 without him against the Caps in games where Washington sniper Alex Ovechkin laced up.
Oddsmakers have the Penguins as +105 underdogs after slating them as -115 favorites Monday night for Game 3. That suggests a move of 20 cents, which is significant by hockey standards. But is it enough?
“We’d ordinarily value Crosby around 20 cents on the moneyline,” says Derek from NHLTips (@NHLTips_ca), a hockey site that puts out solid puck betting content. “He’s obviously valuable, but the Pens don’t have to rely as much on him as the Oilers do on McDavid or the Senators on Karlsson. We actually think this injury may open some great value on Pittsburgh.”
I agree there might be some value on Pittsburgh here. The Pens are at home and Marc-Andre Fleury could steal one after some sensational play in Game 3. But I think Crosby ought to be worth more – at least 25 cents and as much as 40 cents to the Pens line for Game 4 when you consider he’s not Pittsburgh’s only injury concern.
“The Penguins might be without Conor Sheary,” Cole points out. “It certainly feels like there should be a bigger movement when you’re down two-thirds of your top line.”
Keep a close eye on this line leading up to game time. We could see a lot more movement before the puck drops on Game 4.
In the meantime, here’s a look at how the Pens perform with and without Crosby in their lineup:
• 457-309 SU (59.7%), 359-359-48 OU (50%) with Crosby
• 90-65 SU (58.1%), 68-73-14 OU (51.8% UNDER) without Crosby
•53-30 SU (63.8%), 42-41 ATS (50.6%), 49-31-3 OU (61.3% OVER) with Crosby
•3-4 SU (42.8%), 3-4 ATS (42.8%), 2-3-2 OU (60% UNDER) without Crosby