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Is Sidney Crosby hard to play with?

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Analyzing players' scoring rates with and without Sidney Crosby

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

The first time I heard someone say Sidney Crosby was "hard to play with," I thought it was a joke. Apparently it's not. It's something people really think.

Tyler Dellow posted something on Twitter looking at Chris Kunitz' -- who many believe is a Canadian Olympian solely because he plays regularly with Crosby on the Penguins' first line -- scoring rate with and without Crosby. Let's expand on that a little.

I made a list of every forward who has played at least 147 minutes with Crosby from the start of the '07-08 season through Monday's games. Why 147 minutes? Because that's where I got to Michael Rupp, which seemed like far enough down the list.

Here are the scoring rates at 5-on-5 (empty net play removed) for those players in their minutes with and without Crosby over that time span:

Player TOI w/Crosby G/60 with/without A/60 with/without Pts/60 with/without Pts/60 increase
Chris Kunitz 2197:49 1.12 / 0.85 1.67 / 0.99 2.78 / 1.84 +51%
Pascal Dupuis 2064:27 1.02 / 0.80 1.66 / 0.98 2.67 / 1.79 +49%
Evgeni Malkin 1181:32 1.32 / 0.88 2.39 / 1.57 3.71 / 2.45 +51%
Bill Guerin 783:29 0.84 / 0.72 1.30 / 0.72 2.14 / 1.43 +50%
Miroslav Satan 347:15 0.86 / 0.71 1.21 / 0.83 2.07 / 1.54 +35%
Ruslan Fedotenko 346:22 0.69 / 0.59 1.91 / 0.90 2.60 / 1.49 +75%
Tyler Kennedy 343:23 1.05 / 0.76 1.22 / 0.93 2.27 / 1.69 +34%
Maxime Talbot 334:02 0.72 / 0.58 1.08 / 0.71 1.80 / 1.29 +39%
Ryan Malone 301:59 0.79 / 0.86 0.99 / 1.06 1.79 / 1.92 -7%
Matt Cooke 282:07 1.49 / 0.68 1.70 / 0.86 3.19 / 1.54 +107%
James Neal 191:27 0.94 / 1.09 2.82 / 0.97 3.76 / 2.07 +82%
Craig Adams 170:41 0.35 / 0.18 0.70 / 0.64 1.05 / 0.82 +29%
Michael Rupp 147:49 1.22 / 0.52 0.81 / 0.50 2.03 / 1.01 +101%

Four players played significant minutes with Crosby, and they all saw bumps in their scoring rate of between 49 and 51 percent. It's safe to say that's the boost we should expect for any new linemate.

I'll hear arguments from Ryan Malone about how hard Crosby is to play with. Everyone else seems to be able to handle it.

(Update: Nick Cotsonika of Yahoo, whose tweet we referenced in this story, has written this longer piece that talks about the problem. It seems to say the issue is more about how comfortable or uncomfortable players feel playing with Crosby, not how productive or unproductive they are with him. Cotsonika said in response to this article that making your team score a lot doesn't mean you aren't hard to play with. You can see much of the debate on Twitter here.)

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