Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ovechkin or Crosby?

There has been an age-old question going on around the NHL for the past 4 years. Ovechkin or Crosby? Many pundits have thrown their opinions around basing it around skill and what each does best. Last year the two met in the playoffs and Crosby’s Penguins prevailed in 7 games on their way to winning the Stanley Cup. Apparently that settled the debate and people just agreed Crosby is better, but that couldn’t be more wrong.

Instead of going inside the numbers to figure why don’t we look at the simplest way a fan can tell if a player is good or not. Fear. The Rangers just lost two straight games to the Penguins by a combined score of 13-5. In those two games Sidney Crosby scored 4 goals. Yet at no point during those two games did I ever say to myself “oh no Sidney Crosby is on the ice we better watch him.” Crosby dominates within the flow of the game, but Crosby has one HUGE advantage. What we clearly know is Crosby and Ovechkin are the top two players in the NHL, what we also know is that there is a good chance that Evgeni Malkin is #3. Well guess what, Crosby gets to play with Malkin. It’s pretty easy to get open when the defense has to concentrate on Malkin, and it’s pretty easy to rack up assists when the defense is concentrating on you and you have one of the best finishers to pass the puck too.

Crosby has a great team around him, with one of the best players in the game playing on his line. He also has role players who have been successful with previous teams. Take Crosby off the Penguins and their still a playoff team.

Ovechkin has never had that luxury. It took the Caps a few years to complement him with players that could make them a playoff team. But really that’s all they are, players that complement Ovechkin. Most of the players on the Caps would not have the success that they are currently having if they were playing on some other team. Take Ovechkin off the Caps and that team has no identity and is in a lot trouble. Without Ovechkin the Caps have virtually no shot at the playoffs.

Ovechkin is much more valuable to his team, but lets go back to the thought that would strike you if you were sitting in the stands watching either of these guys play. Fear. Like I said before, at no point was I afraid when Sidney Crosby was on the ice. In the last two years I’ve attended 4 Rangers-Caps games. Whenever Ovechkin steps on the ice it is like the Caps are a different team. I’m always sitting there watching Ovechkin, the way he lurks, the way he stays quiet just waiting to pounce, waiting for you to forget about him. Ovechkin changes the game when he’s out there; he needs to be accounted for at all times. When Ovechkin steps on the ice I say “oh no” every single time.

You can look past the numbers; look past how valuable each one is to his team. When it comes down to it Crosby doesn’t make you fear for your life when he’s on the ice, Ovechkin does, and in my book that is the final decision maker.

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