Sidney Crosby is the unquestioned best player in his sport, and has been despite the litany of injuries he’s suffered and the rotating cast of characters around him that he has elevated. None of that was in dispute, especially after winning the Conn Smythe trophy last year.

But in this postseason, Sid has elevated has game to a level beyond just superstar and best in the game today, to truly being one of the best players of all-time.

Thanks to the litany of injuries the Penguins went through this season, including ones suffered by him and multiple key contributors, this Penguins team isn’t anywhere near as strong as the one that won the Cup last year. And in the playoffs, without Kris Letang, icing a skeleton d-corps and a mishmash of AHL’ers and young players with something to prove, Sid has taken this Penguins team to one win away from becoming the first repeat Champions in 19 years.

Though he’s only scored one goal in the Final, it’s hard to argue how much of a factor he’s been in this series, particularly in Game 5.

Whether anyone thinks the ongoing feud with PK Subban has motivated him more than usual or he’s simply elevated his game to another stratosphere, he’s no doubt been transformative in the games the Penguins have won in this series, especially when the Penguins were not at their best.

And then of course, there is his scrappier side:

And in Game 5, the world also learned he has quite a good arm, too:

But through the feuds with Subban, the rotation of plenty of formerly no-name players skating on his wing and him having to carry a broken team on his back through long stretches of poor play, these playoffs, and particularly this Game 5, is the defining game in the defining postseason of Sid’s career.

Only four players in the history of the sport have won the Conn Smythe trophy twice, and two are goaltenders. If the Penguins get one more win, Sid will almost certainly become the fifth in that legendary class, and this Cup more than the first two will be defined by how Crosby elevated his game to another level to get the Penguins there.

The Predators still have every chance to win the final two games of this series, but it almost feels out of their hands now, because Sidney Crosby has taken his game to another level beyond even his own best. Even though he has quite a supporting cast and a truly amazing goaltender behind him, this series and these playoffs belong to Sidney Crosby. (Despite throwing a water bottle onto the ice during play, and getting into quite the feud with Subban, his play speaks for itself.)

In the playoffs, good players become great, great players become superstars, and superstars become legends. Crosby’s Game 5 is emblematic of a postseason in which even his legend and status, when it seemed it couldn’t be elevated much more, just has. And it will be cemented with one more win.

About Matt Lichtenstadter

Recent Maryland graduate. I've written for many sites including World Soccer Talk, GianlucaDiMarzio.com, Testudo Times, Yahoo's Puck Daddy Blog and more. Houndstooth is still cool, at least to me. Follow me @MattsMusings1 on Twitter, e-mail me about life and potential jobs at matthewaaron9 at Yahoo dot com.