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SI says Crosby is "Alone at the Top"


(By Paul Chiasson - AP)

Bruce Boudreau is chatting at WaPo.com at 10. Submit questions here.

I'm chatting at 11:30. Submit questions here.

On the eve of Game 7 of the Caps-Canadiens series, I noted that a Washington loss would inevitably lead to 12 months of articles about how Sidney Crosby had clearly surpassed his rival. If you look at the body of work, it's a fine thing to write -- Crosby has won a Stanley Cup and Olympic gold in the past year, while Ovechkin suffered two straight playoff disappointments, plus an Olympic flameout. Those events dominate their resumes.

But if you burrow down to the specific deciding games, it feels a little ridiculous. If the U.S. had scored in overtime before Crosby's heroics in the gold-medal game, would he be less of a player? If the Caps had managed to win Game 7, would the debate be reopened? What if officials had allowed that goal early in the third period -- would Ovechkin instead be hailed for raising his game to another level when everything was on the line? Will Game 7 of this Penguins-Canadiens series hold equal sway in the debate? If Crosby gets injured in the first period and the Penguins win anyhow, does that get credited to his account?

Anyhow, as predicted....Sports Illustrated's most recent issue makes the point right in the headline: "Alone at the Top; In the last year, Sidney Crosby has won a Stanley Cup and an Olympic gold medal and surpassed his biggest rival. But at 22, the world's best player is just getting started."

And the key paragraphs draw the comparison with equal forcefulness. For now, the debate is over.

Since he and Alexander Ovechkin entered the NHL together in 2005--06, the question has been: Who's better, Sid or Ovie? The answer, until further notice, arrived last week when Crosby took a commanding lead in playoff scoring, while Ovechkin failed to carry Washington past the upstart Canadiens. (The astonishing loss by the Presidents' Trophy winners--who frittered away a 3--1 series lead--was due not to a failure of will by Ovechkin but to a lack of imagination: Crosby's grand rival and measuring stick repeatedly scooted into the offensive zone, then swerved into the middle to look for a shot. He never seemed to consider driving wide to generate offense.)....

"Best player in the world? Yeah," Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges said of Crosby on the eve of the series. "[Crosby and Ovechkin] are both really good, but Crosby's better at using the players around him. Great vision. Not only can he score, like he proved this year, but he passes the puck better than anybody. He makes plays: behind his back, drop passes. You sit in the stands, and you don't even see the possibilities. You wonder how he sees them. As a defenseman you try to force him to make plays he doesn't want to make. If you allow him to make the plays he wants, he'll burn you."

Well, because I don't care about being mocked in the comments section, I'll go ahead and compare their stats through six games against Montreal.

Ovechkin had five goals, four assists, had taken 24 shots and was a +5. His team had outscored Montreal, 21-18.

Crosby --playing against a battered Montreal blue line -- has one goal, four assists, has taken 12 shots and is a +1. His team has outscored Montreal, 16-14.

But if Crosby wins on Wednesday, he'll clearly be alone at the top.

(And yes, the fact that I'm still writing about this makes me either pitiful or incorrigible, your choice.)

By Dan Steinberg  |  May 11, 2010; 8:31 AM ET
Categories:  Caps , Media , NHL  
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Comments

And regardless of what all these talking heads have to say, the fact is, if you were playing a game of pick up or drafting a team as a GM you would definitely take OV over Crosby for your team -- regardless of whats on their resumes.

The caps should sign albert haynseworth, butter up the goal posts and stuff him in the net for 100 million.

Posted by: SkinsFanInNYC | May 11, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

"And regardless of what all these talking heads have to say, the fact is, if you were playing a game of pick up or drafting a team as a GM you would definitely take OV over Crosby for your team -- regardless of whats on their resumes."

---

If I'm playing a pick-up game, I take Alex. If I am a GM and my goal is to build a championship winning hockey team, I take Cindy 10 times out of 10, this isn't even a question.

I've been a Caps fan my whole life, but people really need to start getting over this Alex v. Cindy thing. It's not even really a debate at this point to anyone who doesn't have a rooting interest in the Caps.

That said, having the 2nd best player in hockey isn't a bad thing. People need to enjoy more what we do have.

Posted by: VTDuffman | May 11, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I guess it's a little bit pitiful. But we're all still hurting, right?

On the other hand, those stats are beautiful to see. (Though fans of Crosby will conjure up some lame reason that explains why they don't matter.)

And on Wednesday it will be either the Pens or the Habs that win. Not Crosby.

Posted by: fern205 | May 11, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

"On the other hand, those stats are beautiful to see. (Though fans of Crosby will conjure up some lame reason that explains why they don't matter.)"

---

Well, they don't matter because he already has a cup. That's pretty much the end of the discussion.

Even if it wasn't and you really wanted to get into the "who is the better player" debate, I would argue "What does it matter?" What's the point in crowning Alex the "best player" or whatever, if that doesn't bring the cup to Washington? I would rather not have the best player and have cups, than have all the best players and no cups.

Posted by: VTDuffman | May 11, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Wilt vs. Russell. Is there anyone who actually believes that Russell was the better player? If you look at stats, etc., Wilt was better by a mile. But Russell had the better teams. Of course, it helped that the Penguins were burned to the ground two years before the Caps and have a few extra top 5 picks than the Caps do. But I think the Caps have definitely made up a lot of ground.

Besides, if Montreal wins on Wednesday, the story becomes "Look at what Montreal did in coming back from being down 3-1 against the Caps, then ousting the defending Stanley Cup champions" as opposed to the current "Caps blowing a 3-1 lead."

And Dan, you're right, even if Crosby has no goals, no assists, and is a -6 on Wednesday, if the Penguins win the game, it was due to his leadership, will, desire, etc. And his teammates were just along for the ride...

Posted by: tgoren71 | May 11, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

So it is probably true,for now. If the Caps ever get serious about manning up to play play off hockey,that could change. The rest of it I could care less. I was rooting for USA and Russia in Olympics. USA was pretty thrilling to watch. Bottom line I take Ovie. 10 out of 10 times.

Posted by: ridgely1 | May 11, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

@tgoren,

My argument is that all things being equal, you look for differentiators. The Cup is the key one. I'd argue that Cindy and Alex's stats are relatively similar. You can't really look at one and determine who is "better by a mile" like in your Wilt v. Russell example.

Posted by: VTDuffman | May 11, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

You want the best player in the world and the best player to build a team around, there is no question it is Ovie. Crosby has only been more successful because he has been on better built teams. Last year, the Pens won the Cup despite Crosby's choking, he contributed nothing in the Finals. This year, they are beating Montreal despite him choking again.

Something that people always miss in regards to Ovie - he is on a team that is still in a rebuilding plan, and they finished frist in the NHL. What is the potential once they finish rebuilding?

Posted by: timmyv38 | May 11, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

The greater problem is that hockey is just not a big sport nationally. Sports writers and radio personalities who make their paychecks talking football, baseball, and basketball really don't know the first thing about hockey. The comparison of Ovie to Crosby is just the easiest way to actually get people to read a hockey story. If they focused on the mechanics of playing the game, they'd lose 3/4 of their readers. The average American just doesn't care about hockey stats like they do baseball, football, or basketball stats, so writers pick the one stat that has the biggest impact to the casual fan but has the least relevance to two players who are both young in their careers: championships. This comparison has little to do with the players and lots to do with sportswriters who are too lazy to up their game and raise the awareness of their readers.

Posted by: crashinghero | May 11, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Has anyone ever looked at the fact that Crosby and Ovechkin play very different positions, in which different things are expected from each? Crosby, as a Center is expected to dish the puck, win face-offs, and pick up junk goals. Ovechkin as a LW is expected to score, score, create space, score, and put pucks on the net for the Center to jam home. I absolutely cant stand Crosby, but think he is the best Center in the game (he does what a Center should do VERY well.) He may be the best "all around" player, because that comes with the position he plays. Ovechkin is easily the most exciting player in the game, and is more worthy of the price of admission. And as a TEAM game, I think the supporting casts for all teams (Caps, Pens, Canada, Russia) also need to be factored in. One person should not be expected to do it alone...

Posted by: padre123 | May 11, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

If I'm playing a pick-up game, I take Alex. If I am a GM and my goal is to build a championship winning hockey team, I take Cindy 10 times out of 10, this isn't even a question.

Posted by: VTDuffman | May 11, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

really? you call him cindy and then say you would take him 10 times out of 10 to build a championship team? ov is 24, to suggest you cant build a championship team around him is a bit premature. the fact is, the pens have done a better job (faster) in building a championship team around sid. having two number one overall picks and two number 2 picks in four years doesnt hurt, particularly if one is malkin.

both are great players, both could be argued as the best player in the world. to suggest that sid or ov is the hands down the best is not possible. sid is a center, which is certainly a more valuable position to a team. but ov is a scoring machine. to suggest he doesnt make those around him better is to ignore the fact that he has nearly the same number of assists as goals in his career.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | May 11, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

One other thing that SI, in their grand ignroance, missed - again. Look who Crosby was playing against in the 1st round, when he scored all his points. A team with a second-rate goalie, who would be a back-up or third-string on pretty much any other NHL team, and that team was also missing two of their top 6 forwards - one for the entire series, one for nearly all of it. Meanwhile, the Caps were playing a team who made the playoffs despite having the most games missed by major players of any team in the NHL.

Posted by: timmyv38 | May 11, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Also, the quotation from Gorges has to be taken with a grain of salt. The interview was done just before the series between Montreal and Pittsburgh began, so the last thing Gorges would want to do is say something to get Crosby fired up. If he'd said Ovechkin was the best player, or they were equal, that would have been bulletin board material for the Pens locker room.

Posted by: crashinghero | May 11, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

When it comes to comparing individual players (not teams), then team performance (# of Cups won, playoff success) is not relevent, especially in hockey, as even the best offensive players in the game are on the ice less than 40% of the time! This is not true in baseball, football, soccer, and especially basketball (which is on the other end of the extreme, i.e, the best players play close to 90% of their team's minutes).

Why is this such a diffucult concept to grasp?

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | May 11, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

If Sid is so great, how come he's so boring? He's like the Tim Duncan of hockey. Give me Shaq any day.

Posted by: laugh_riot | May 11, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

@VTDuffman

Mark Rypein has a Super Bowl so he is clearly better than Dan Marino. No need for debating it.

Craig Adams has a Cup, he is clearly a better player than Jeremy Roenick or Cam Neely. No debate needed.

Derek Fisher has 4 or 5 titles. He is clearly a better player than LeBron James. No need for debating it.

Bernie Williams has 3 World Series titles. He was clearly better than Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. No need for debating it.

Wow, ranking players is easy when using your logic.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 11, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

If Sid is so great, how come he's so boring? He's like the Tim Duncan of hockey. Give me Shaq any day.

Posted by: laugh_riot | May 11, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I would still pick OV first as a GM but you cannot ignore that Sid has raised his game in two ways this year; scoring and physicality, even after having tasted victory.

Crosby is a fine player and if he wasn't so whiny at times, we'd all respect his abilities more. The Pens play like him and that reflects in their playoff success. Let's not kid ourselves as caps fans.

Posted by: minhle1 | May 11, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

"really? you call him cindy and then say you would take him 10 times out of 10 to build a championship team? ov is 24, to suggest you cant build a championship team around him is a bit premature"

---

I didn't say you couldn't build a championship team around OV. I said I wouldn't if given the choice right now. I'm just going on track record here.

Posted by: VTDuffman | May 11, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

@sgm

We've had this discussion before, you're presenting a disingenuous argument. No one is arguing that the only thing to look at is Cups.

I'm arguing that all things being relatively equal, you look for differentiators - the Cup being the primary one.

Do you really think that Alex and Cindy are analogous to Dan Marino and Mark Rypien? I can't say I agree there. But, what about Dan Marino and Joe Montana?

Posted by: VTDuffman | May 11, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Look until he scored the winning goal for Canada he didn't have a good showing in the Olympics, so enough he's the greatest talk....

Posted by: PublicEnemy1 | May 11, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

The thing that annoys me most about the Ovie-Crosby comparisons is the implication -- or in some cases the flat-out statement -- that because Crosby has won a Cup and a gold medal and Ovie isn't, that Ovie somehow isn't a clutch player. Now, if people want to define him solely by the fact that he didn't score (a goal that counted) in the last two game sevens, fine--but that's silly. Anyone who has watched the Caps in the regular season, where he's scored countless clutch goals, or in the playoffs (Game winning goals, games 1 and 6, Philly, 2008 and game tying goal, game 7; GWG, Game 2, Pens, 2009, GWG, game 4, Habs, 2010), knows that's just ridiculous.

As for who you'd rather start a team with, can you really ignore the intangibles in that debate? Both guys are incredible players and have years before we can look back and say who won more Cups. But five years ago, the Caps barely filled half the Verizon Center and were a complete afterthought on the sports landscape. Along with winning, Ovechkin's flair, personality and excitement has helped make the Caps the second most popular team in town. Would Crosby--based on his style and personality--have brought anywhere near that excitement to make so many new Caps fans?

Posted by: TheFingerman | May 11, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

"As for who you'd rather start a team with, can you really ignore the intangibles in that debate? Both guys are incredible players and have years before we can look back and say who won more Cups. But five years ago, the Caps barely filled half the Verizon Center and were a complete afterthought on the sports landscape. Along with winning, Ovechkin's flair, personality and excitement has helped make the Caps the second most popular team in town. Would Crosby--based on his style and personality--have brought anywhere near that excitement to make so many new Caps fans?"

---

It depends on what my goals as a GM is. If my primary goal is to sell tickets, there is no doubt I take Alex.

If my primary goal is to win championships, I take Cindy. I argue that winning championships begets ticket sales, so it works out in the end.

Posted by: VTDuffman | May 11, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Problem with Cindy is that he's just such a pampered wuss. Constantly whining to refs and media, complaining about hats being thrown out on the ice for a hat trick, punching a guy from behind in the family jewels........Plus the guy has the personality of an after dinner mint.

Posted by: poguesmahone | May 11, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

@pogues

I can't argue with any of that.

Posted by: VTDuffman | May 11, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I would take Ovechkin. Ovechkin has scored signficantly more goals and has a much better +/- all while he has solely turned a team that was an afterthought into the most feared team in the NHL this season. True, the Caps lost in the postseason this year but that was just an aberration to prove the rule that Ovechkin is the best. It's not even debateable.

(I'm using VTDuffman logic to reach an overbroad conclusion based on a very few facts favorable to my argument and then to tell everyone else that no other conclusion is possible. It's fun.)

Posted by: sgm3 | May 11, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

It depends on what my goals as a GM is. If my primary goal is to sell tickets, there is no doubt I take Alex.

If my primary goal is to win championships, I take Cindy. I argue that winning championships begets ticket sales, so it works out in the end.

---

Since neither player is even 25 yet, I would simply argue that it's premature to argue that Sidney Crosby will win more championships. It may turn out to be true, but I don't now how anyone can say that with confidence.

Posted by: TheFingerman | May 11, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

For those of us who gauge the best by Championship rings, then you have your answer.

If you gauge the best based on how much a player makes a marginal team better, then you have your answer.

Or maybe you do it based on stats of Points Per Game or +/- ratings and then you have your answer.

For me, hockey ended after they turned the lights off at Verizon so I just want to talk about baseball!

Posted by: dmacman88 | May 11, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

How can anyone argue against this fact? I hate the whiney little girl, Cindy, but great players are always remembered by Championships- Cindy is WAY ahead of the class. Ovi just choked in the olympics and choked in the first round of the playoffs...it will be a long summer of cold hard facts.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | May 11, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

For me, skill sets are only part of the equation. Character/personality factors in heavily as well. It becomes a whole picture kind of thing.

Some may say that Sidney didn't ask for the attention he gets but to my knowledge, he has never tried to dodge it or act as if he's humble despite all of it, on or off the ice. Just because he speaks quietly and "respectfully" during interviews doesn't mean a hill of beans. The vanilla act he's got going on is just that, an act. He's like the teacher's pet who gets away with so much more than the other kids; he knows it and uses it. Many wil say, 'Well, you can't blame him.' Well, yes I can and I do. This characteristic, first and foremost, is what bugs me about him. Skill-wise? Indeed, he's got mad, sick skills and has obviously worked hard to groom what came naturally to him. I won't begrudge him that. I'm just not a fan of the man. Certainly wouldn't be my first pick for a team.

I'll take Alex any day. There's no sense of an act or pretending from him. He's fallible and he knows it and he, even with his limitless exhuberance and somewhat carefree joie de vivre(which, at times has made him pay the piper), is the first to take things to heart (perhaps too much) and attempt to make things right again. So much so that there are times that it drags him down, then he tries to do too much and ends up compromising his natural abilities. It also drags down others around him down because he has that sort of infectious personality, for better or worse. But, also because of that, it's easy to see his evolution and growth forward as a player and a person. Better days will come for him. Definitely a big fan of the man.

Finally, I don't claim to know either of these guys at all. Also, I'm aware of the fact that my descriptions can/will be viewed as simplistic, shallow and based on my own values and perspectives. After all, they're both complex, unique human beings, like all of us are. Also yes, they're both great at what they do. So, like most of us, I'm only going on what I see as a follower/fan of this sport and on my gut feelings.

GO CAPS!! GO OVIE!! (and, for now: go Habs, go!:)

Posted by: nena1 | May 11, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

But five years ago, the Caps barely filled half the Verizon Center and were a complete afterthought on the sports landscape. Along with winning, Ovechkin's flair, personality and excitement has helped make the Caps the second most popular team in town. Would Crosby--based on his style and personality--have brought anywhere near that excitement to make so many new Caps fans?

Posted by: TheFingerman | May 11, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

remember that pittsburgh was LAST in the league in attendance before sid and malkin showed up. so yes, crosby would have brought that excitement to the caps as well. winning does that. i love the way ov plays and clearly sid is a bit of a dullard off the ice, but he's brough that town a winner (just as ov has) so i would say the same would have occurred here.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | May 11, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

"(I'm using VTDuffman logic to reach an overbroad conclusion based on a very few facts favorable to my argument and then to tell everyone else that no other conclusion is possible. It's fun.)"

---

Don't get mad at me because you're Mark Rypien argument was terrible.

Make a case that Alex is Dan Marino to Crosby's Mark Rypien. I argued that it's not an apt comparison because the players are relatively equal. Argue that they are not relatively equal if that's the point you want to make.

Having an adult conversation isn't difficult if you make the effort.

Posted by: VTDuffman | May 11, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

"Not only can he score, like he proved this year, but he passes the puck better than anybody."

I'm going to argue that Ovie is a better passer then people think. I watched him this year and some of the passes he made were down right great.

Is he a better passer then Crosby? Probably not. But he's asked to "score" whereas Backstrom is the passer.

The Caps lost because of thier defense. It wasn't hard for the Habs to sit on thier defense(who by the way have really good defenseman and a goalie who is playing spectacular) after they went up 2-0 in the first 10 minutes of every game.

Ovie greatly improved on his penalty shot/shootout scoring this year. The year before he had problems. This past season he was really good.

I think this is dumb debate, and if Alex wins a Cup people will finally shut up. I think both guys are going to win multiple Cups.

They are both great and any team would be fortunate to have either. The thing that rubs me the wrong way is that people are making Crosby to be the "second coming" and that he can't do anything wrong. It's like they want him to be the next Gretsky.

The higher up you are the harder the fall Sid.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | May 11, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

As Caps fans, we just have to live with it for a while. Ovie and the Caps will win Cups. They'll be a force in the East for years. But, until the Caps win we have to bit our tongues and bide our time. I do hope Montreal wins tomorrow because it will be interesting to see how much heat Crosby and Malkin get...but I'm a Cap fan. I'm not lucky enough for that to happen.

Let's give Sid his due as well - he had the best year of his career (if you ask me.) That said, he does get too much credit for last year's Cup (it was all Malkin!) and for the gold medal. He was a stiff in the Olympics and anyone who argues otherwise is a Penguin fan. The Media - your colleagues Wilbon and Wise included - love to add to the the growing image of Ovie as the partying brute - playing along with the marketing image that has gained traction. That plays right into traditional values that the hardworking North American gets the glory while the selfish party boy European always fails. It's silly. It's sad. It speaks a lot to the lack of hockey knowledge these writers possess. But it is what it is and we're stuck with it for now. Sigh.

Posted by: DisgustedinArlington | May 11, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

A couple of additions to this dreary, silly, and endless debate (they're both great yet different, an apple and an orange, so not sensibly comparable).

First, one main reason OV often tries the move to the middle is that he gets headmanned the puck so there's no one to pass to and he gets a better angle for a shot that, if it gets through the defenseman, has a reasonable chance; he also goes wide plenty of times. The real problem is that the Caps often don't catch up fast enough so him to try a drop or set-up pass. When one is available, he's often *too* unselfish (especially on 2-on-1s.

Second, it's a game of inches, despite absurdly sweeping generalities preferred by sports reporters who feel compelled to fill columns. Had OV's shot with a few minutes left in game 7 (just before MTL made it 2-0) been literally a third of an inch to the left, it would probably have gone in rather than grazing the post and shooting through the crease. Add that to the (dubiously) disallowed goal and the same reporters would be raving about how clutch he is.

Posted by: jhershb | May 11, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Nobody is right. When Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in the lead by 5 car lengths approximately 25 laps into the race, is he the best race car driver in the world? Hell no. Wait until the race is over. Until then, this is just timefiller.

Posted by: ThisGuy | May 11, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

You can't just compare Crosby, a center, to Ovechkin, a left wing. Their positions and respective roles on the ice are distinctly different. Ovechkin plays with a great passing center in Backstrom and has a RW who is not known for his passing. Crosby also is playing with one of the Top 5 players in the league in Malkin, who is his equal, and actually requires as much or more attention to stop. The Caps simply don't have a No. 2 player of Malkin's calibre. Lastly, Pittsburgh has had no more success than Ovechkin and the Caps did in putting away Montreal. Will SI take back their story of Crosy's Penguins get knocked out in Game 7 at home?

Posted by: wizfan89 | May 11, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

"Well, (the stats) don't matter because he already has a cup. That's pretty much the end of the discussion."

And so do Eaton, Cooke, Adams, etc. Are they all better than Ovechkin too?

Posted by: Hatfield223 | May 11, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Just heard this joke from one of many Pens fans I have in my office.

What do you get from a bar when you order an "Ovechkin"?

A white Russian without a cup....

I wanted to cross check the guy in the face with my phone for that one.

Posted by: PublicEnemy1 | May 11, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

How about we wait until Crosby and Ovechkin are 35-40 and you can look back at their careers?

Crosby is 22 and Ovechkin is 24.

Lemieux didn't win a Cup until he was in his 7th NHL season.

Ray Bourque was 40 when he won his first Cup.

Gretzky's teams had flameouts as bad as Washington in the early 1980's before becoming the dominant power of the decade in the NHL.

I get the feeling that BOTH players like Magic and Bird will be fighting for more than ONE Cup during their careers.

In their rivalry this is 1980 and Magic has an NBA title.

But Bird won 3 in the next 5 years.

BOTH became great players.

Posted by: leopard09 | May 11, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

@VTDuffman

I'm not mad I was just enjoying using your simplified logic.

When I used the Marino and Rypein comparison I was using hyperbole to prove a point that chamionships are very low on the todem pole when comparing the quality of players in team sports (how the players actually perform in the playoffs is a more apt comparison to compare postseason successes). Using such literary techniques is often used during adult conversations.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 11, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

leopard09, wise analysis. who cares about crosby anway, and backstrom may end up being the top superstar for the caps .
Who knows !

Posted by: capsfan12 | May 11, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

So it is probably true,for now. If the Caps ever get serious about manning up to play play off hockey,that could change. The rest of it I could care less. I was rooting for USA and Russia in Olympics. USA was pretty thrilling to watch. Bottom line I take Ovie. 10 out of 10 times.

Posted by: ridgely1

Agreed. Well put.

To all the analysts: even if Crosby is at the top (for the time being), who cares? Nobody is really concerned with who's better, I personally just want the Caps to win. If OV being the worst is what makes the Caps win, so be it.

I'm so tired of this argument and I don't think I'm alone. I am probably one of the biggest OV supporters ever. Crosby is better, so what?

Posted by: LloydChristmas | May 11, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

From someone who has been watching hockey for most of her life, why Crosby is better than Ovechkin:

> The Russian star was asked if the ban would change his
> playing style, to which he responded, "No, maybe it just
> get me more angry," and he later added, "I'm not going
> to change."

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=300791

Hockey is about putting on a show, scoring goals, and winning for your home town. NOT about putting people in the hospital and then bragging about it in the papers.

Crosby also realizes it takes a whole team to win, and says so in interviews where the media gushes over him. In other words, it takes more than just one hotshot LW.

Maybe in 10 years or so Ovechkin and all you Caps "fans" who only realized hockey exists in the past 2 years will understand all of that.

Posted by: esmemarie | May 11, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

@LloydChristmas

I agree with you completely. The argument has gotten old, especially because writers revisit it every few weeks like somehow a few weeks of playing will change who is better.

I hope people drop the comparison for 5 years and then revisit it.

I'm like you, I'm a huge Ovie supporter. I love watching him and the rest of the team play and all I want now is for the Caps to win the Cup . Who cares what conclusions the hockey "experts" reach on Ovie or Crosby, it's not going to change my view of it or my enjoyment of watching Ovie play.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 11, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

@esmemarie

Ovechkin says the same things in interviews about his teammates. In addition, Ovechkin had more assists than Crosby this year in less games, so he clearly is using his teammates too.

Do you have anything else to enlighten us with?

Posted by: sgm3 | May 11, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I am huge Crosby fan, and at times, can despise Ovechkin for what I see as reckless hits which can injure.

Even with that starting point, it WAY too soon to tell which of these two talents will truly peak above the other.

Both are a joy to watch, both are head and shoulders above the rest of the league (stat-wise, it is indisputable at least), but both are way too young, and play completely different positions and games to make this comparison.

True, Crosby has been clutch, and proved he can win when it counts, which makes it easier to point to him. But by the same token, Ovechkin has tons of time to compile an equally impressive amount of team accomplishments ahead of him.

And don't forget to watch the likes of Toews, Malkin, Stamkos, and Tavares before giving away the crown.

I'll always prefer Crosby, being a Pens fan, and an admirer of his type of game, but I wouldn't be bold enough to claim A > B, and more than anything, hate fans who need to knock the others game, just to promote their favorite.

Posted by: spynnal | May 11, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I'd take Crosby over Ovi if I wanted to prove to people that even guys make pretty girls sometimes. =P

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | May 11, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

@ esmemarie: By any chance, do you have any Jewish synagogues you wanna visit to tell them that pork tastes really good with barbecue sauce? For you to come onto a Capitals message board about Cindy is futile. Much like your hopes of becoming Mrs. Cindy Crosby. Poor thing.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | May 11, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

one thing Si did not report on was that Crosby gets a pedicure after each scrimmage/game. Not that there is anything wrong with that

Posted by: capsfan12 | May 11, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

DStein,

Look at the situation in two ways. Who lasts longer in the NHL? Then say to yourself, who means more to their team? I am a die hard Pens fan, went to Game 5 of the cup last year, watched my Pens get stomped by Detroit, but still got to see them hold the cup up. That year, Crosby meant everything to his team and to the City. Why? Because frankly Pittsburgh has a more dedicated fan base then Washington. Don't understand what I mean...I will tell you.

I have watched/played/dreamed/supported hockey since I was about nine years old, I am now 29. I grew up with the game in the Pittsburgh area. When the team almost left the city, a large majority of the people and city were devistated. In stepped Super Mario and the rest is now the present. But Caps fans? When have they ever really given a crap except for the last two years? When Ovie was a rookie, I was able to get front ice tickets. Now, I have to battle the hipsters and power lawyers because hockey is the next big thing for them.

The people who like Crosby like myself, will admit, sure he can be a baby sometime, but because he means more to his city, means more to his team, and has the backing and support, he will last longer in the NHL then Ovie, and no matter what he will surpass Ovie in stats. That is just something people in this area need to realize. Russian players don't line the Hockey Hall of Fame, it is names like Gretzky, Super Mario, Roy, and Orr; and I could sit an argue who is better, but bottom line, Ovie can't match Sid. People in DC only care about what is hot and exciting so they can brag to their friends. What DCist should ask, who is winning, not who is better, because they don't care.

It is a shame, because Ovie is really really good. But until the city stops measuring stats and realizing his real value, you will have this argument about Sid and Ovie all day. And besides, if you would probably pay attention to your team, you should be watching Carlson...he is a natural.

Posted by: duckie86 | May 11, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

@duckie86

Then you would definitely agree that Rypein was a better QB than Marino. Why look at stats when you can look at championships?

I think Fedorov did pretty well in the NHL. More titles than Lemieux so Fedorov was clearly a better player than Lemieux.

Lastly, the Pens went bankrupt and almost moved because of the front running fan base in Pittsburgh that had so many people stop attending games once the Pens stopped winning that it drove the team to bankruptcy. Nice fan base you have there. Very dedicated.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 11, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

> Ovechkin says the same things in interviews about his teammate.

Wow. What leadership. No wonder the Caps have been so, uh, 'successful'...

Posted by: esmemarie | May 11, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Last I checked, Ice Hockey is a friggin team sport. And the simple fact is, Crosby had a MONSTER defense in back of him in Pitt last year (Gill, Orpik, Scuderi?), as well as with Canada - Something OV has NEVER had. Check what Crosby has done against Montreal this series: 1 Goal. Oooooohhhh man is he really setting the NHL on fire. OV was absolutely eviscerated for only 5 against the same team. Crosby getting a pass is OK i guess?

Posted by: Pius5 | May 11, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

@esmemarie

You are the one who pointed out that those comments to the press as an example of Crosby's leadership but then you say those comments are meaningless if stated by Ovechkin.

If you are not going to use the same standards when judging both players then your comments, by definition, are biased, with no true evidentiary support, and are thus meaningless.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 11, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

@ sgm3,

So I am reading the whole comments section and it appears you are a barfly on this article. The Pens did not go bankrupt because of a poor fan base, they went bankrupt because they had serious management problems and the city could not afford the team. The team had no corporate sponsorship until Mellon Bank helped out and bought the Civic Arena. Of course, you being a know it all would have surely known that. The Pens did everything to reimage the team and gain interest this is true, but it was a bigger effort to help the city. The city of Pittsburgh was darn near bankrupt the entire mid 90s. The city did not want to move the team, they could not afford the team.

Your comparisons of Federov and Rypien are so dated, I don't even think you know what you are talking about. I just see that as a deflection to my original comments, that DCist don't care about hockey. You only care about what is new and hip. You wait ten years then tell me who is better. Besides, the rate Ovie keeps getting suspended and hurt, he will be out of league. Also, the Nats are getting good now, so your focus will shift momentarily. Now I won't be able to get Nat tickets anymore in about 3 months.

Posted by: duckie86 | May 11, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

"I'm not mad I was just enjoying using your simplified logic.

When I used the Marino and Rypein comparison I was using hyperbole to prove a point that chamionships are very low on the todem pole when comparing the quality of players in team sports (how the players actually perform in the playoffs is a more apt comparison to compare postseason successes). Using such literary techniques is often used during adult conversations."

---

Using the hyperbolic end game of an argument to "prove a point" is not part of adult conversation. It's called a slippery slope, and it's a classic logical fallacy.

I said that all things being relatively equal (which I think they are), between the two players, all you are left with to compare the two is championships/playoff success. When you do that the clear "winner" is Crosby.

If you disagree, that's cool. Just say why. Say either that you don't think that the players are relatively equal by all other measures and support that argument, or say that all things being relatively equal, there is a better differentiator.

Saying "LULZ U THINK RYPIEN IS BETTUR THAN MARINO," is not a counter-point, it's borderline trolling.

Posted by: VTDuffman | May 11, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

"The Pens did not go bankrupt because of a poor fan base, they went bankrupt because they had serious management problems and the city could not afford the team."

---

To be fair, the poor fan base didn't help much either. When the team was struggling with poor management and poor on-ice performance, the fans didn't exactly do their part by not showing up to the games leading to a dead-last attendance record.

It's silly for Pens fans to claim that they are any more devoted than Caps fans. Their attendance cycles in tune with their record like most teams in the league.

Posted by: VTDuffman | May 11, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

@duckie86

By using Rypein and Federov as examples I was using your argument that we should look at winning and not statistics. So I was just complying with you.

You stating that Ovie will be out of the league in ten years may end up being true. In addition, Crosby could blow out his knee at some point in the next few years. Injuries are always an X factor that are impossible to predict. But I don't think Orr's injuries hurt his value as a player.

I'm not here to argue about what fan base is more loyal or whatnot. I root for the Capitals and have been doing so for long before Ovehckin came. But Ovechkin and the rest of the Caps team have been the most exciting Capitals team to watch during my rooting period (starting in the arly 90's).

You think Crosby will be the better player over the long haul, fair enough. I think it will be Ovechkin, but I really don't care.

Either way, I enjoy wathcing the Capitals play and root for them to win the Cup. They didn't win it this year and I don't really care who ends up winning now because it still means the Caps didn't.

So good luck to you are your team and adios.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 11, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I can't stand Cindy Crosby. I really like OV --- that being said, if I'm starting a team, Crosby is my pick. The man is as clutch a player as I've seen in my 40 years of being around this game. He always comes up big when needed (obviously OV can't say that), never takes a dumb penalty at an inopportune time (again OV can't say that), and is a proven winner (um...well, you get the picture). Pittsburgh is no more talented than Washington, but they get it done. Crosby is the reason why.

Posted by: hockeylifer | May 11, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I think Backstrom has the best chance of being as good as Crosby when comparing centermen. Ovie, playing at the wing, is the most dominant player in the NHL. When it comes to being the mvp...I think it's a toss up.

Posted by: DCSportsfanatic1 | May 11, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Pius5,
So it's now Crosby's fault he had a better team surrounding him?
I completely agree Gill, Scuderi, etc. contributed mightily to last year's Cup. If they had either Gill or Scuderi on this year's team they'd have beaten Montreal by now.
I also agree Crosby's production has been down in the series...but I think that is not giving the Habs enough credit. Gill and Georges have been really good this series.


Posted by: BigDaddy651 | May 11, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

@VTDuffman

You have shown nothing to show they are relatively equal except to just say that.

Crosby is a great player nad if you prefer Crosby for whatever reason then that that is fine. I prefer Ovechkin because of his strength on the puck, his hitting, and his great shot. In my mind, if you add up every quality of both players (passing, skating, stength, stick skills, shot, board play, etc.) I would take Ovechkin. If you disagree then that is fine.

Either way it is just an opnion with no clear answer. Pointing to one more championship is not conclusive. I was using Rypein/Marino to show that just because one player has a champisonship and the other does not is not conclusive proof.

If you want to use the Fedorov/Lemeiux argument then using your argument they are close enough and Fedorov has more titles so he is better. If not, then your "they are relatively equal" is meaningless because it is backed up by no evidence and is just a conclusory statement.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 11, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

@hcokeylifer

Are you using last year's SCFs as an example of Crosby coming up big? 1G 2A in the series and 0G 0A -3 in games 5, 6, and 7. Is that the definition of big? Maybe Max Talbot is the best player in the NHL since he "came up big" in the biggest moment.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 11, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

"You have shown nothing to show they are relatively equal except to just say that."

Stats. Their stats are relatively equal.

"Crosby is a great player nad if you prefer Crosby for whatever reason then that that is fine. I prefer Ovechkin because of his strength on the puck, his hitting, and his great shot. In my mind, if you add up every quality of both players (passing, skating, stength, stick skills, shot, board play, etc.) I would take Ovechkin. If you disagree then that is fine."

I don't "prefer" anything. I'm being objective. Shocker, all the "reasons" you use are completely immeasurable. You may as well say "Alex is the better player because I like him more." Awesome, some of us prefer facts.

"Either way it is just an opnion with no clear answer. Pointing to one more championship is not conclusive. I was using Rypein/Marino to show that just because one player has a champisonship and the other does not is not conclusive proof."

No one was saying that just because one player has a championship, it's conclusive proof. You're the only one who is arguing that factor at all. That's why you repeatedly look silly doing so.

"If you want to use the Fedorov/Lemeiux argument then using your argument they are close enough and Fedorov has more titles so he is better. If not, then your "they are relatively equal" is meaningless because it is backed up by no evidence and is just a conclusory statement."

Are Fedorov and Lemieux relatively equal, statistically? If so, then I think an argument definitely could be made for Fevorov over Lemieux.

By all measurable means, they are relatively equal. Using further measurable means, Crosby has a better playoff performance and more championships.

Look, I know this is hard to understand. But I "prefer" Alex. But, that's really only because he's on the team I root for. The problem is, and this is something that I think you are failing to grasp, is "he's on the team I root for" isn't a very good means of determining who the "better player" is.

Posted by: VTDuffman | May 11, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

@VTDuffman

Ok. Career goals, who has more? How in the world is that relatively equal?

Posted by: sgm3 | May 11, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

MVP? Pearson Trophies? All-NHL first teams? Who has more of those?

Posted by: sgm3 | May 11, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Playoff Goals per game:

Ovechkin: .714
Crosby: .490

Playoff Point per game:

Ovechkin: 1.429
Crosby: 1.286

Posted by: sgm3 | May 11, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Career goals:

Crosby: 183
Ovechkin: 269

Posted by: sgm3 | May 11, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm waiting for the relatively close reference you are going to use now?

Also, if you want to use the Olympics too, then Ovechkin had the GWG against Canada the quaterfinals of the 2006 Olympics (just as important as the 2010 quaterfinal game).

Posted by: sgm3 | May 11, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Since people are dropping stats now, like I said earlier, it's too close to call, and yet both are head and shoulders above their peers:

# Wayne Gretzky, 1.921
# Mario Lemieux, 1.883
# Mike Bossy, 1.497
# Bobby Orr, 1.393
# Sidney Crosby, 1.364
# Alexander Ovechkin, 1.336
# Marcel Dionne, 1.314
# Peter Stastny,[3] 1.268
# Jaromir Jagr, 1.256
# Peter Forsberg, 1.254

Obviously, they have long careers ahead to climb or drop, but look at the all-time names these two sit amongst.

Do we really need to keep arguing, or insulting the one who isn't your favorite?

They are neck and neck, and so far ahead of the rest of the league, arguing who is better is moot.

And anyone who looks at this list and even tries to compare either to Lemieux or Gretzky needs to lay off the drugs. Might be worth discussing in 10 years, but not now.

Posted by: spynnal | May 11, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Since people are dropping stats now, like I said earlier, it's too close to call, and yet both are head and shoulders above their peers:

Points per game...all time leaders

# Wayne Gretzky, 1.921
# Mario Lemieux, 1.883
# Mike Bossy, 1.497
# Bobby Orr, 1.393
# Sidney Crosby, 1.364
# Alexander Ovechkin, 1.336
# Marcel Dionne, 1.314
# Peter Stastny,[3] 1.268
# Jaromir Jagr, 1.256
# Peter Forsberg, 1.254

Obviously, they have long careers ahead to climb or drop, but look at the all-time names these two sit amongst.

Do we really need to keep arguing, or insulting the one who isn't your favorite?

They are neck and neck, and so far ahead of the rest of the league, arguing who is better is moot.

And anyone who looks at this list and even tries to compare either to Lemieux or Gretzky needs to lay off the drugs. Might be worth discussing in 10 years, but not now.

Posted by: spynnal | May 11, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

@spynnal

I agree. I just didn't like when people use the fact the Penguins won the SC last year as a determining factor on who is better. They pretty much sound like Wilbon yelling "who's got rings!".

Both great players and fun to watch. Hopefully we get to see more of Ovie and the Caps next year in the playoffs.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 11, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

@sgm

I hear ya. As a Pens fan, I was sad we weren't going to get another epic rematch of last years great 7 game series. So fun to watch.

Hell, Montreal is looking to spoil everyone's fun with that stifling trap-based, hard to watch hockey!

Hope we get the rematch next year.

Posted by: spynnal | May 11, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

@spynnal

Montreal's style of hockey is not the most fun to watch. As much as I do tend to root against the Pens I was hoping for a Caps/Pens ECF because not only would it have been two talented teams playing each other but they would play a style of hockey that is very enjoyable to watch. It would have done wonders for putting the NHL in the national spotlight too.

Excluding game 7, every game in last year's series was incredibly exciting to watch and each gave me multiple heart attacks.

I was hoping for that rematch, of course only if there was a different outcome than last year.;)

Posted by: sgm3 | May 11, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

This whole debate is just silly.

Fact is, the NHL's primary player and fan base is NorthAmeroCentric. The RUSSIANS! are stil THE ENEMY! as far as the NHL is concerned. And it is never more obvious than in this discussion.

A player is a player; a team is a team; and no player can be rated better or worse than another based on his team's accomplishments.

Josh Gorges (Canadian, no surprise; defenseman, too many shots to the head, no surprise) calls Crosby better based on only ONE aspect of a player's contribution to his team. Against which:

Career goals:

Crosby: 183
Ovechkin: 269

Silly.

Posted by: poorskins | May 11, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

poorskins,
What you fail to address in your argument is they play different positions. If both were LW or C then simply using goals as a measure makes sense.
How many more SOG has Ovechkin taken? What is their shooting percentage? How many career assist does each have? Someone already posted PPG(VERY little difference).
Essentially, we're arguing player 1 and 1A in the league and the difference is pretty minimal.
Given that hockey is a team sport, exactly how relevant are the individual stats?

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | May 11, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I wrote that same comparison between Ovie's and Crosby's performances against the Habs on CI yesterday. It highlights how ridiculous this "Who's better?" discussion is. You can't simply throw individual stats out the window just as you can't throw the win-loss stats out either. Neither player is absolutely better in both categories. The majority of sports writers in this country know nothing about hockey. They probably can't even explain how off-sides or icing works!

Posted by: MyPostIDisAfake | May 11, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I just love the " GOD why hasnt this Ovi guy won US that Stanley Cup thing yet. whats wrong with him.I heard he was supposed to be good or something" Caps fan

Posted by: heathdog1119 | May 11, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Josh Gorges (Canadian, no surprise; defenseman, too many shots to the head, no surprise) calls Crosby better based on only ONE aspect of a player's contribution to his team.
---------

i love how the overly homered-up Caps fans will always find a way to dismiss an actual NHL player's opinion (see Umberger).

Fact is, Gorges implied that it was more difficult to defend Crosby than Ovechkin.

To me, thats a pretty good representation of who the better player is.

Fact is I wouldn't give up Ovechkin for Crosby anyway because I like Ovy's style and outward passion. But if you had to break it down to who was the better overall player, I'd say it was Crosby. He's got better vision, he doesn't get shut down the way Ovy does against certain dmen (Chara, Gill). And he's more responsible with the puck. Less turnovers.

So get your blinders off and just admit it. To this point Crosby has proven to be more reliable. And his team has been demonstrably better. 2 straight Final appearances, 1 Cup, and a chance to advance past the 2nd round for the 3rd straight yr.

compare that with -- 1st round exit, 2nd round exit, 1st round exit.

ouch

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 11, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

As a Caps fan, I love Alex but the fact is...Crosby has the ring and that is the end all when two people have similar stats

Posted by: Bious | May 11, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

cstanton1: Um, no, actually, you meant overly homered-up Pens fans who feel the need to prop up this SILLY argument.

All you say is the same stuff everybody else does in trying to compare two players who aren't comparable. They play different positions; each plays his position better than anyone else plays it. But NOOOOOO....the overly homered-up Pens fans feel some weird need to, oh I don't know, act like Cindy is their big brother or something.

So Mark Rypien and Peyton Manning are absolute equals. SURE they are. Same nummerBowlz, right?

SILLY. But if you insist.

BigDaddy651: although I didn't mention the different positions in my last post, you and I are making the same point, really. (1 and 1A and either one can take either number.)

But.

OK, two guys. One puts 20 SOG and scores three a game; the other two SOG, and scores one a game. (Extreme, I know.)

I am - no question - taking the first guy. SOG isn't the measure. Percentage isn't the measure. Goals per game is the measure. And those 20 SOG are wearing down the goalie and creating opps for teammates.

And if you tell me the second guy is putting in an assist or two a game, once again: who's better? Sounds like 1 and 1A to me, or too damn close to call; and as you point out, TEAM makes player more than the other way around.

Each player is the best at his position. It makes no more sense to make Cindy "better" than it does to make Halak better than both of them.

Which, um, he IS. ;-)

Posted by: poorskins | May 11, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

FOR THE LOVE OF BABY JESUS, YOU PEOPLE WHO THINK YOU KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT THESE TWO PLAYERS AND THINK HOW IS THE BEST SERIOUSLY NEED TO STOP. ALL YOU GUYS DO IS GO BACK AND FORTH WITH YOUR PATHETIC BICKERING THAT HAS BEEN ADDRESSED OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS. WE GET IT, BOTH PLAYERS ARE GREAT AND NO WORDS YOU SAY WILL EVER PROVE THE FACT THAT ONE PLAYER IS BETTER THAN THE OTHER. THEY PLAY TWO VERY DIFFERENT POSITIONS UNDER TWO DIFFERENT ORGANIZATIONS. NOW HUSH UP AND DO SOMETHING MORE PRODUCTIVE!

Posted by: trailblaza05 | May 12, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

poorskins,
At least to this point Halak has been better than either of them in the playoffs!
I just knew the Pens were going down the other night when they hit 2 posts on the same PP but never scored.
As much of a Pens' fan as I am, I wouldn't be shocked if the Habs pull this off.
The Pens' have lost 2 games in which they lead. Give Montreal a lot of credit...they've brought it every game except the first of the series.

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | May 12, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

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