So about that Sidney Crosby conspiracy theory: Pittsburgh Sports Power Rankings

Crosby joins Marc-Andre Fleury, Ivan Nova James Conner and…T.J. Oshie’s high stick that wasn’t.

Fleury is making Crosby's absence seem like NBD.

Fleury is making Crosby's absence seem like NBD.

USA Today Sports/The Incline Illustration

The Penguins have the Washington Capitals on the brink of another early playoff exit. But if it’s any consolation to the Capitals, their continued struggles made this week’s edition of the Pittsburgh Sports Power Rankings very fun and easy to write. I thank them for their service.

10. Matt Niskanen

Marc-Andre Fleury is one of the nicest people alive. In fact, the hardest part of playing goalie for him is probably fighting the urge to apologize to opponents for stopping their shots. So when someone as nice as Fleury tapes over your name, you’ve really messed up.

And let this also be a warning to James Neal, who the Penguins could face down the road in the playoffs: Take out a Penguins star and you will face the wrath of Fleury’s tape (if not any punishment at all from the league office).

9. Pace of play

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at Pittsburgh Pirates
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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is trying to speed up baseball and it’s a difficult task. If you have watched any of this game of baseball over the past 150 years, it’s kind of slow endeavor by design. But not when Ivan Nova pitches. The Pirates … ace? is he the ace now? … and National League Pitcher of the Month for April will get you in and out of the stadium in well under three hours.

In five starts this season, Nova has allowed only one walk in 36 innings. Last season he walked just three batters in 64.2 innings with the Pirates. Thanks to Nova’s ability to efficiently dispatch opposing batters, his average start clocks in well under three hours and his last three games have wrapped up in just 2 hours, 14 minutes, 2:39 and 2:31, respectively.

Unfortunately, Nova isn’t scheduled to pitch again in Pittsburgh until May 20th, so you’ll have to wait until then for your next quickie.

8. The NHL conspiracy to protect Sidney Crosby

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

If you have spent any time in life conversing with hockey fans who live outside of the Pittsburgh metro region, you have no doubt heard about how there is a league-wide conspiracy to protect Sidney Crosby at all costs. “Imagine if [mean hockey thing] was done to Sidney Crosby!” they cry. “[Guy who did the mean hockey thing] would be suspended for life!”

Yet despite this clear conspiracy that you can no doubt read more about on InfoWars’ NHL page, players who have done things to Crosby have received a total of one game of suspension in his 12-year NHL career. One. One game in 12 years. Gary Bettman is very bad at running a conspiracy. I guess that’s why everyone boos him.

7. T.J. Oshie

T.J. Oshie has never struck anyone as one of the brightest minds in sports, and that was on display again in Game 4 when the Capitals winger was sent to the box for the final minutes of the game for high-sticking Nick Bonino. Only Oshie didn’t actually high stick Bonino.

His stick never contacted Bonino’s face, yet Oshie skated right off to the penalty box without complaint, having completely bought his opponent’s acting job. Even after the game he was still blaming himself, calling his penalty an “amateur play by me.” Thank you for your big contribution to the Penguins win, T.J. Thank you for not being smart. Thank you for teaching Nick Bonino the art of selling a high stick.