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Alex Ovechkin: Fighting to keep up with Sidney Crosby

Mar 14, 2010, 9:00 AM EDT

Ovi1.jpgChicago Blackhawks vs. Washington Capitals
12:30 p.m. EST – Sunday, March 14, 2010
Live on NBC

It seems that it is rare to find a hockey fan that likes both Sidney
Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. It’s Team Sid vs. Team Ovi and the battle can
get a bit bloody at times, as fans spew forth hate and discontent
towards the other camp.

It’s all part of the natural rivalry that has developed between the
two, as they jockey for position in the race to the be the NHL’s best
player and it’s still debatable who is in the lead. Is it Ovechkin, he
of multiple scoring titles and highlight-reel goals, who leads the most
exciting team in the NHL in front of the best home crowd the league has
to offer? Or is it Crosby, who has now won a Stanley Cup and an Olympic 
gold medal and who currently leads the NHL in scoring?

It always seemed that Ovechkin was in the lead in this race over the years, but he’s fallen behind. The world has embraced
Sid the Kid and now Ovechkin must catch up. With the Capitals facing a potential Stanley Cup finals opponent this afternoon we have to ask: is this year his best shot at doing so?

The 2010 Capitals are the best chance Ovechkin might have.

It’s been a slow build for the Capitals to get to where they are now,
and there’s no doubt they are they best they’ve been since Ovechkin
joined the team. But great teams like this don’t come along every year,
and they’ll need to take advantage of the shots they have. Last year the
Capitals had a great team, yet were stunned by the Pittsburgh Penguins
in the semifinals. I’m sure that did nothing but add more fuel to the
fire that rages inside Ovechkin, and watching Crosby hoist the cup a few
weeks later – if he even watched it – had to be painful.

I picture Ovechkin alone in a dark room, watching Game 7 in front of a
flickering television, vowing revenge on his nemesis while crushing something metallic between his hands.

“I vill destroy zat Crozzbee. I vill vin zee Stanley Cup!”

How much does the rivalry drive Ovechkin?

One thing you have to love about Ovechkin is his intense approach to
every game. Some people call it reckless, while I call it a will to win.
He never takes a game off and every shift you know he’s on the ice.
Sure, he may not be the most responsible player in his own end but he
certainly makes up for it on the scoreboard.

But how much does he think about Crosby each game? Does he watch the
scoreboard each night to see what the Penguins have done and does he
check to see how many goals Crosby scored? This is the first season that
he and Crosby have been in a race down the stretch for the league lead
in goals, and it has to frustrate the two-time “Rocket” Richard Trophy
winner. He’s been beat out for the Art Ross before by Crosby but the
Richard is his. Losing that race to Crosby in a “Year of Losing to
Crosby” would be the icing on the cake of frustration.

The good news: The Capitals aren’t just Alex Ovechkin

In the past, Alex Ovechkin has been all the Capitals had. Not so any
longer, as the team has been built around him and compliments his skill
and production in nearly every way. The Capitals aren’t a freakishly
offensive team based on Ovechkin’s goal-scoring alone; there are players
all over the roster that can put the puck in the net.

Ovechkin recently suffered through a near-catastrophic six-game
scoreless streak, yet somehow the Capitals found a way to win without
him. What’s ironic is that in the game he finally scored in – two goals –
the Capitals lost.

So perhaps the pressure is off Ovechkin a bit, so that
he can go out
and be himself on the ice knowing that the team around him is just as
capable as he is.

If Ovechkin has any hope of keeping up with Sidney
Crosby – and you
know he thinks about it – then winning the Stanley Cup this season is
all that matters. The scoring title might be a consolation prize, but
if Crosby hoists that Cup again this season the then Ovechkin would have
fallen a few horse-lengths behind in this quarter mile race.

Join us for a live chat of today’s game at 11:30 a.m.
EST, only on Pro Hockey Talk!

  1. Jim - Mar 14, 2010 at 10:26 AM

    ass more fuel to the fire that rages inside Ovechkin?

  2. walt - Mar 14, 2010 at 11:32 AM

    As soon as Ovi gets his us citizenship, his +/- will go up. Lest Sid gets his first.. lol

  3. Scott - Mar 14, 2010 at 11:33 AM

    Crosby is ahead of Ovi in one other important measure, professional ethics. Sid’s behavior is always in the best interest of the game, just hard-working hockey with no cheap shots and no whining. Ovechkin has repeatedly taken cheap shots at other players, that are clearly intended to injure opponents. It is ridiculous for you to say that Ovechhkin is irresponsible but that he makes up for it on the scoreboard. You don’t get foregivesness for being a dirty player by scoring a lot of goals.

  4. JG - Mar 14, 2010 at 11:57 AM

    Scott you are obviously a Penguins fan. Sid didn’t earn the nickname Crysby for nothing…

  5. Randall - Mar 14, 2010 at 12:01 PM

    “Or is it Crosby, who has now won a Stanley Cup and an Olympic gold medal”
    Why can people not separate individual and team accomplishments? The Penguins won the Cup. Canada won the gold. Crosby had a lot of help, obviously better help than Ovechkin has had. Does Crosby make his teammates that much better? Kinda hard to say that, it’s not like the Caps can’t score/win without Ovechkin.

  6. Jeff - Mar 14, 2010 at 12:16 PM

    No Sid didn’t earn that nickname….Ken Hitchcock gave it to him

  7. Sparklemahn - Mar 14, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    You aren’t going to get any of the naturally biased, Canadian fans to ever admit that Ovechkin has more pure talent. Crosby seems to be better at winning! Ovechkin must win something big to keep up with Sid the kid. Ovechkin may be more talented, but Crosby is a leader and champion twice over (Stanley Cup, Olympic Gold). In the big picture, these two superstars make hockey better. As a lifelong hockey fan and player, I love and respect them both!

  8. Joe in Surprise - Mar 14, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    That ochicken guy has the ref’s on his side or else no one would know who he is…The cup ,the gold come back and talk to us when you might (and I dought it) the ochicken guy has lol lol lol

  9. Ann - Mar 14, 2010 at 1:17 PM

    Crysby? Did you make that up all by yourself, or did your little friends help you?

  10. Symp - Mar 14, 2010 at 1:38 PM

    everyone who likes crosby is from pittsburg and that is it, he is a bitch and whines about everything but gets his way because he cant play a physical game and bettman loves him for that. dont get me wrong they both have amazing talent but ovechkin mans up and just deals with shit instead of crying and he can make big hits…..if crosby would stop complaining and bettman would stop worshiping him he would be fine, but untill then pens fans will be the only ones who can stand him.

  11. Wingfan - Mar 14, 2010 at 2:05 PM

    So NBC you are horrible after the 1st period with Ovechkin out because he made a poor hit. You say there goes the ratings this week on national TV how can we as NHL fans trust you to see our product when you say shit like that. I’m a Red Wings fan and tuned in to watch good hockey today between two good teams. The Blackhawks have 2 young talented players in Toews and Kane. The Capitals have Greene and Backstrom plus Theodore who is having a great season after flopping with the Avs after getting chased out of Montreal. Thats a story in itself, but all I’m hearing about this game is how Alexander the Ain’t isn’t in the game still and how his hit wasn’t worth the punishment. Any way you see it Ovechkin has 3 game misconducts this year and I feel deserves a suspension from the league. At this point if the NHL is serious about discipline keep him off the ice for 1 game. I’m sick of hearing about it and seeing it. Its part of the reason I don’t watch NBC is they talk about things other than the hockey game that is being played and about guys other than Crosby or Ovechkin, I’m ready for the NHL to take less money to go back to ESPN.

  12. LA Kings Fan 4 Life - Mar 14, 2010 at 2:40 PM

    LA KINGS are the hidden and silent underdog… Watch out you seem to forget about Anze Kopitar, and J. Quick in goal, or Frolov, Modine, or Handzus…. Hmmm Its gonna be an interesting end to an awesome season..
    Go Kings Go !!!!!!!

  13. kk - Mar 14, 2010 at 3:38 PM

    Anything from Pissburgh sucks.

  14. Tomahawk - Mar 14, 2010 at 3:51 PM

    What do you mean when Crapitals win the cup. According to the Washington fans, its a given this year! No reason to play the games I guess. Ovechkin will always chase the better Crosby. Crosby has the already won the things Ovechkin is only dreaming about.

  15. Mike - Mar 14, 2010 at 4:38 PM

    Ovechkin plays the game hard and thats great, but sometimes there is a point where you have to think about things on the ice before you do them. His hit on Campbell today was dispicable, and Boudreau trying to argue for him was even worse. After a play like that, the last thing the coach should try to do is justify it, I don’t care if that is your job you just don’t do it because you look like an idiot letting your player run some guy almost head first into the boards and then try and say something like “he turned into it” or “it looked worse than it was”. Ovechkin intentionally pushed Campbell from behind going full speed towards the boards. Thats just another cowardly hit by OV. Let us think back to his knee on knee with Gleason. I think it is time that Bettman start showing that he isn’t just going to let the star players push him around and let them do whatever they want. People say that Bettman loves Crosby, but I think he loves OV more considering he has never really disciplined the guy even though this isn’t the first time he has done something like this. OV needs a really good suspension to show him that this isn’t the way the game works. I think in this situation 4 games would be completely justified if not just for the act, but also for the repeat offender status. Sure hes great at scoring, but so is Sid. Sure hes great at passing, but so is Sid. Sure he has great ice vision, but so does Sid. One thing that OV betters Crosby at? Number of game misconducts ammassed. Things that Crosby betters OV at? Number of cups, medals, and overall sportsmanship awards. I think Sid will take that any day.

  16. Birdie17 - Mar 14, 2010 at 7:27 PM

    Hey Mike, Crosby would actually have to HIT SOMEBODY to get any kind of game misconducts! And exactly when did Crosby win any NHL sportsmanship awards. Like it was pointed out on the NBC broadcast, Campbell’s skate caught a rut in the ice after his contact with Ovechkin. To think that anyone would consider this worthy of a suspension is laughable at best and moronic at worst. And considering the NHL officials lack of a backbone by not suspending Matt Cooke, they would look really ridiculous if they do suspend Ovechkin.

  17. Colonel - Mar 14, 2010 at 8:46 PM

    Ovechkin is a very talented hockey player. He is also very cheap. I rarely see him hit anyone without leaving his feet, which is supposed to be a penalty but most refs are afraid to penalize him. He also cherry picks. If players like Crosby or Iginla ignored defense like Ovechkin, they would be 100 goal scorers. I’m glad Ovie is out there because he is good for the game, but someone is going to take him out like he does to others and his career will be cut short. He should man up and play the WHOLE game.

  18. pensmichele - Mar 15, 2010 at 9:55 AM

    Crosby’s comments about what happened with Downie:
    “I don’t think there’s a need for his leg to be behind my knee like that, but after we both fall, I guess anything can happen. But when you put your leg behind a guy like that, it’s a little questionable. But those things happen. It’s part of the game sometimes.”
    Wow. “A little questionable…those things happen…it’s part of the game.” Doesn’t sound like crying to me.

  19. Cymbeline - Mar 15, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    From what I can tell, Ovechkin’s more questionable plays seem to be a result of recklessness and over-enthusiasm rather than malice. Something he has to get under control before someone really gets hurt.
    For those of you who are calling him a cheap or dirty players, as opposed to Sidney Crosby’s “lilly-white” reputation and image: last I looked, Ovechkin never jumped another player right off the face-off, punched him in the crotch and then proceeded to pound him into the ice before the guy even had a chance to put up his dukes in self-defense. That was Crosby.
    As for leadership, Ovechkin, unlike Crosby, knew enough to turn down the offer of the team Captaincy in his sophomore year, because he knew he wasn’t ready. Crosby did no such thing, and it shows. The Penguin players more often than not look to Gonchar for leadership, rather than Crosby. Don’t believe me? Watch a few of their games.
    And speaking of Gonchar, when he’s out, the Penguins lose. When Crosby’s out, their record is more or less the same as when he’s playing.
    IMO it’s also telling that his teammates don’t seem to come to Crosby’s defense when he gets into a beef with an opposition player. Doesn’t seem to be the most popular guy on the ice. and I don’t think that Henrik Lundquist is the only player out there who takes exception to Crosby’s diving, whining and his penchant for behind-the-play stick between the legs kind of dirty play.
    Of course, none of that is going to change as long as the NHL has its big fat thumb on the scale in favor of Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, to the great detriment of other teams. Such as the Redwings, for example.
    And no, I am not a Detroit groupie. I’m from Pittsburgh.

  20. Dalton - Mar 16, 2010 at 12:40 AM

    well personally crosby is better i know so many people just like you who say ovi is better then crosby but your the kind who only looks at goals and hits theres alot more to the game then that crosby can complain at points but hey it does win them games it does help the refs notice that shoulda been a penlty but ovi has complain too ive seen it.crosby is an overall great hockey player aswell as ovi ppl just notice ovi more cuz he scores alot of goals and is all over the ice but crosby makes moves that are smart and help when games too not just always scoring goals crosby can win battles along the boards and he can score he does alot of little things ovi doesnt that no on cares about because ppl only watch hockey for the hits and goals. in my opinion crosby is a better hockey player all around but ovi does have the offensive edge that everyone loves but sooner or later ovechkins extermly aggressive play will catch up with him its gunna lead to injuries and getting him in trouble just like that cheapshot of campbell. and for leadership crosby is a leader and has the responsibility that other players on the team dont he is the future of the pens and will do them well for many years but as for ovechkin he is a the funny guy in the change room i dont think he should be the captain i think he lacks the abilitly of responsibility. crosby for the win i think yes

  21. jimmy - Mar 16, 2010 at 2:24 PM

    if your moronic enough to believe ovechkins hit wasnt dirty it was campbell had his back toward ovechkin when he was hit and if your saying that wasnt a cheap shot why is it that brian campbell now out for the rest of the season with a broken collerbone and 3 broken ribs, just all because ovechkin had to make some reckless play that could chance the hawks playoff chances?

  22. JF - Mar 16, 2010 at 3:42 PM

    Pretty unfair to compare olympic gold medals when Canadain players make up 53% of the NHL and Russians only 3.5%. OV has better numbers and more individual accomplishments. What do crosby’s lovers say this year after OV locks up 3 harts in a row and wins the stanley cup? Then OV plays on a better team? Crosby’s fans will always make excuses just like he does.

  23. Drew - Mar 16, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    yea, like “whiniest player” as voted by his fellow NHL players

  24. Krom - Mar 17, 2010 at 9:50 PM

    If other teams players don’t like you, fans boo you, and say you suck, you must be doing something right. I love it.

  25. Purrrrnella - Mar 25, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    really???? someone like Sid???? REALLY????

  26. adam - May 2, 2010 at 7:24 PM

    it was so funny to see that ugly looking man called Ovechkin cry after the caps lost game 7 this playoff season to the habs.mybe now Ovechkin can go back to his ape family that live in the zoo

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