Replic Sidney Crosby Jersey

Who is the greatest Penguin Player — Sidney Crosby or Mario Lemieux ?

Sidney Crosby broke Mario Lemieux’s Pittsburgh Penguins record for career post season points with one goal and an assist in the Penguins’ 5-0 rout of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 4 of their first-round playoff season. Crosby established a record of 173 with his 62nd career playoff goal midway through the second period. So we asked our NHL experts:

Has Crosby surpassed Lemieux in the Penguins’ pantheon yet? If not, what else does Crosby need to accomplish?

Greg Wyshynski, senior writer: Let’s start with a definition of terms. Mario Lemieux is the most dominant hockey player I’ve ever seen, with the caveat that youth and the frustrating limitations of a predigital world didn’t allow me to see Wayne Gretzky in his prime. And if the “Penguins’ pantheon” extends off the ice, well, Mario’s work to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh probably merits a second statue outside the arena.

That established: Within the Penguins’ pantheon, Sid has surpassed Mario. Let’s focus on where it counts the most — the postseason. That Crosby now leads the Penguins in postseason points (173 in 152 games) is admirable, but as usual, Mario wins in sample size (107 games). Crosby has the Penguins’ record for the most multipoint games in the playoffs, with 59, to Lemieux’s 51. They both have won two Conn Smythe Trophies as playoffs MVP.

They diverge in two places. First, Crosby won that third Stanley Cup to Mario’s two victories. Second, his back-to-back MVP performances in winning back-to-back Cups is an exponentially more impressive accomplishment than Mario’s back-to-back Cups and Conns, given the relative quality of play in their respective eras, as well as the modern challenges Crosby had to deal with in the salary-cap age .

Look, I’ll freely admit to being an era snob. This argument would change dramatically if Crosby had the opportunity to post 199 points like Mario did when the goals-for average for teams was 3.74. (It was 2.77 last season.) If this is a greatest-players-of-all-time list, Lemieux’s numbers likely rank him higher than Crosby. But within the context of this franchise, I think there’s a case to be made that Sidney Crosby is the greatest Penguin. He came into the league living in Mario’s basement. It’s his house now.

Emily Kaplan, national NHL reporter: I have a hard time comparing stats. I’m dating myself here, but I still can’t wrap my head around a player scoring 80-plus goals and notching nearly 200 points in one season. Since Lemieux’s era (1984-2006) was so vastly different from Crosby’s (2005-who knows when), stat adjustments don’t quite do it for me, either. The comparison is about impact. It’s hard to understate Lemieux’s significance to Pittsburgh. He thrice revived this franchise. Lemieux’s arrival in 1984 transformed the Penguins into winners. Fifteen years later, he saved them from bankruptcy, and, in 2007, he ushered in a new arena deal to block the team from bolting to Kansas City (despite flirting with the possibility).

When it comes to purely on-ice achievements, Crosby has a chance to measure up to Lemieux, if not surpass him. Crosby winning a third consecutive Stanley Cup, something his mentor fell short of, would amplify his case. And if Crosby’s Penguins win five (or more) championships in his tenure, as Crosby leapfrogs Lemieux’s postseason point totals, we’ll have to weigh that heavily. The pantheon now stands as a 1a and 1b situation, and Lemieux’s total body of work makes him the easy A.

Sidney Crosby passes Mario Lemieux for Penguins’ playoff points lead

The Pittsburgh Penguins have had two faces of the franchise guide them to Stanley Cup titles: Mario Lemieux in the 1990s and Sidney Crosby during their current run.

Crosby has three Stanley Cup titles to Lemieux’s two. And now, he can claim a  Penguins mark to himself: the franchise’s leading playoff scorer.

Crosby passed Lemieux in playoff points Wednesday night with a first-period power-play assist and a second-period goal.

His goal came against Philadelphia Flyers backup goalie Michal Neuvirth because Brian Elliott was pulled after giving up three goals on 14 shots.

And Neuvirth was looking the wrong way when Crosby, displaying his usual deft touch around the net, quickly brought the puck out front and tucked it past the goalie.

That gave Crosby 173 playoff points to Lemieux’s 172. Of course, Crosby reached the mark in his 152nd playoff game, while Lemieux needed 107.

“A lot of his records aren’t going to be touched,” Crosby said, according to the Associated Press. “The fact I can be close to him and around that one, I guess I’ve been fortunate to play in a number of playoff games helps a lot.

“It’s always difficult to compare players from different eras, though both are superstars in their time. Lemieux, along with Wayne Gretzky, dominated the high-scoring 1980s, but also had to deal with players clutching and grabbing in the 1990s, chronic back pain and a bout of cancer.

The NHL has cracked down on obstruction during Crosby’s era, but he faces deeper teams and better defenses, plus he’s missed time with concussions.

Lemieux totaled 78 points during the Penguins’ back-to-back Stanley Cup wins in 1991 and 1992 while Crosby totaled 77 during Pittsburgh’s three titles in 2009, 2016 and 2017.

Crosby is off to another strong start in this postseason. With a hat trick in Game 1, four points in Game 3 and two points Wednesday night, he’s tied with Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov and Boston’s David Pasternak for the NHL’s playoff lead with nine points.

And even though Crosby will never match some of Lemieux’s franchise marks, such as a 199-point season, he, barring injury, will continue to widen his lead on Lemieux’s playoff mark as the Penguins try this season for a three-peat.