‘Sid vs. Ovi’ rivalry is arguably one of the great rivalries in current sports
history. From being first picks in
back-to-back drafts, to having a meeting in the playoffs nearly every-other
year. Sidney Crosby and Alexander
Ovechkin have had a storied rivalry with numerous great moments. These men will go down as some of the
greatest hockey players of all time, and the fact that these two played in the
same era of the NHL makes their stories all the more intriguing. Although they may have many striking
similarities, the differences in the skill sets of Sidney Crosby and Alex
Ovechkin can only be seen through careful examination.
Ovechkin and Crosby were chosen as
first picks in back-to-back NHL Entry drafts.
Ovechkin was chosen in 2004, and Crosby was chosen as a first pick the
following year, in 2005. Ovechkin, a
native of Moscow, Russia, has commonly hailed by international scouts a
powerful winger who dominated the ice, even have his own recognizable sounds
when skating and shooting. He had
amazing flair, and was often compared to Hall-of-Famer and long-time Detroit
Red Wings’ great Gordie “Mr. Hockey” Howe.
Sidney Crosby, on the other hand, was a native of Cole Harbour, Nova
Scotia, Canada, and he was known for his nice passing and great play-making
talent, alongside his astonishing stickhandling abilities. He was already being seen as the great hockey
captain since Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky and “Super” Mario Lemieux. Ovechkin was the first pick in his draft, but
before he was chosen it was a toss-up. Nobody,
besides the Capitals management team, knew whether Ovechkin would be taken
first, or if they would opt for the other Russian high-end prospect, Evgeni
Malkin. In the end, they chose Ovechkin,
and Malkin went to the team with the second pick, who happened to be the
Pittsburgh Penguins. The following year
was different. Every NHL analyst, coach,
and fan in the world knew who was going to go first, but it was up to the draft
lottery to choose who would get him.
Pittsburgh won the draft lottery, and they chose Sidney Patrick Crosby (Rosen).
Although there were many other great
classes of rookies over the years, arguably one of the best of these was the
rookie class of 2005-06. Because of the
lockout in the previous season, there were multiple draft classes debuting in
this year. Among these were the young
talents by the names of Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. These two moved on to become two of the
greatest legends in both the NHL and International hockey.
In Crosby’s rookie year, he had
already solidified himself as one of the best in the league. He proved to be an offensive tactician, scoring
102 points, 63 of these being assists. This
is still the Penguins’ record for points in a rookie season, and he is also the
youngest player ever to score 100 points in a single season. Ovechkin, on the other hand, played an
entirely different game. He was a pure
goal scorer. In his first career game,
he had already racked up two goals. It
was later in the season, however, that scored the most memorable goal of his
career. On January 16 of 2006, in an away
game against the Arizona Coyotes, he scored a goal lying on his back with the
puck behind his head. Because of his
amazing scoring talent showing forth so early in his career, he won the 2006
Calder Trophy, which is given to the best rookie every season, and he also
finished third in NHL scoring with 52 goals and 107 points (Zwolinksi).
The second round of the 2009 NHL
Stanley Cup Playoffs was the first time these two ever met in the postseason. It was a tough battle for both squads. This series opener was an all-out
frenzy. It clearly pointed to how the
rest of the series would pan out. Crosby
opened the scoring with goal early in the first period. Ovechkin answered later with a goal of his
own, also in the first period.
Ovechkin’s goal gave the Capitals a lead which would hold until the end
of the game. They won 3-2 (Masisak).
The next game was even better, being
known as the “dueling hat tricks” game.
Crosby again opened the scoring, but Ovechkin turned it around and
turned it into a career performance. He
scored the game’s next three goals, and was thus the first player of the game
to record a hat trick. Crosby also
scored two more times, but they were of naught, as the Capitals again took the
game, this time with a score of 4-3 (Masisak).
The next game was held in Pittsburgh,
where Ovechkin opened the scoring after only 83 seconds of play. The Penguins, on the other hand, scored the
next two goals for a 2-1 lead. They
couldn’t keep this lead until the end, as Niklas Backstrom found the back of
the net on a man advantage with only 1:50 left in regulation. In overtime, rather than going down 3-0 in
the series, the Penguins caught a lucky break.
Kris Letang, an offensive-defenseman, ripped a clapper from the blue
line that caromed off the Capitals’ defense and landed in the cage, giving the
Penguins a much needed win to get back into the series (Masisak).
In game 4, Backstrom scored only 36
seconds into the first period of play.
Once again, however, the team that opened the scoring couldn’t hold the
lead. The Penguins scored three straight
goals shortly afterward. At the
beginning of the third period, Crosby scored his fifth goal of the series and
gave the Penguins a 4-2. In the end, the
Penguins tied up the series with a 5-3 victory (Masisak).
Due to an odd change in the
schedule, the fifth game of the series was played in Washington on the
following day. Ovechkin had two goals,
which included an overtime-forcer with 4:08 left in the third period. The Penguins once again caught a break in
overtime. Pittsburgh forward Evgeni
Malkin tried to pass the puck across the slot to Crosby, but Caps’ defenseman
Tom Poti, in an effort to break up the play, dove and ended up knocking the
puck into his own net. The Penguins got a
3-2 win and a 3-2 series lead (Masisak).
Game 6 also embodied most of the hype
surround this series. Although it is not
quite as well-known as the second game, it is still arguably the most
well-known game of the series. Although
he did not score any goals, Ovechkin had three assists. Crosby, on the other hand, got an assist on
the first goal of the game, and scored a goal of his own with 4:18 left on the
clock in the third period to force another overtime. In overtime, after an icing call against the
Penguins, David Steckel, a Capitals centerman, won the faceoff and then scored
the game winning goal to force a seventh game (Masisak).
Game 7 did not pan out the same way
as all the other games. Instead of
having fast-paced, back-and-forth action, this game started slowly and ended
with a thud for one of the two teams. In
the early minutes of the game, the goaltender for Pittsburgh, Marc-Andre
Fleury, made a momentum altering save off a great scoring opportunity for Alex
Ovechkin. Shortly afterward, Crosby
opened up the scoring with a wrister past the Capitals’ Varmalov. Eight seconds later, Penguins winger Craig
Adams scored. Twenty-eight seconds into
the second period, Crosby passed the puck to Bill Guerin, who blasted a cannon
of a slap shot past Varmalov. Jordan
Staal proceeded to add to the scoring, making it a 5-0 game, until Ovechkin
added a goal for himself. Crosby,
however, deepened the Capitals’ wounds, and scored another goal, ultimately
sealing a huge game 7 win for the Penguins, who would afterward move on to
defeat the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference finals and the Detroit
Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Final (Masisak).
After the 2009 playoffs, Crosby and
Ovechkin did not meet in the playoffs again until 2016, where the Penguins beat
the Capitals in 6 games, Crosby and Ovechkin did not have as great a presence,
combining for only 4 points in the series (Brown).
Other than having amazing playoff
performances, Sid and Ovi also have outstanding career stats. As of January, 2018, Crosby has played 830
regular season games. In this time, he
has scored 399 goals and 680 assists, with 619 penalty minutes (“Sidney Crosby,”
HockeyDB). Ovechkin, on the other hand,
has played a total of 969 regular season games in his career. Throughout these games, hes scored 587, while
assisting 500, with 637 minutes in the penalty box (“Alex Ovechkin,” HockeyDB).
They are also a common sight at NHL
Awards ceremonies. Crosby alone is known
as “the player who has won everything possible” in hockey. His first NHL awards came in the 2006-07 year when he earned
the Art Ross Trophy (league leader in points), the Hart Memorial Trophy (regular
season MVP), and the Ted Lindsay Award (awarded to the player with the most
outstanding combination of skill and sportsmanship). In the 2009-10
season, he won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy (most regular season
goals). That same year, he also won the Mark Messier Award, which is
chosen by NHL Hall of Fame member Mark Messier and given to whichever NHL
captain leads their team by a positive attitude, both on and off the ice.
In the 2012-13 season, Crosby won his second Ted Lindsay
Award. He won yet another Ted Lindsay award in 2013-14, along with his
second Hart Memorial Trophy as well as his second Art Ross Trophy. In
2016-17, he won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy. The years
of 2009, 2016, and 2017 were when he won his three Stanley Cups, and he took
home the Conn Smythe Award (given to the MVP of the Stanley Cup Finals) in the
latter two years. Outside of the NHL, Sidney Crosby has two Olympic Gold
medals. Serving as captain of team Canada, he led his home country to
back-to-back tournament wins in Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014. NHL
players will not attend the 2018 Olympics, so this streak will end (“Sidney
Ovechkin, on the other hand, also has a monstrous
collection of career awards. In 2005-06, he won the Calder Memorial
Trophy as the league’s top performing rookie. In 2007-08, he won the Art
Ross Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy, Rocket Richard Trophy, and Ted Lindsay
Award. The following year, he won his second Hart Memorial, Rocket Richard, and
Ted Lindsay Awards. He won his third Ted Lindsay Award in 2010, and his
third Hart Memorial Trophy in 2013. From 2013 through 2016, he led the
league in goals scored, and therefore took home the Rocket Richard Trophy in each
of these years (“Alex Ovechkin,” HockeyDB)
Only one of these two has ever really been held back by
injuries. Throughout his career, Crosby
has already missed a total of 114 games due to concussions and
concussion-related symptoms. Most of his absence was in 2011 and 2012,
after Crosby suffered a concussion from a high hit in the 2011 NHL Winter
Classic. After this hit, he missed the rest of the regular season, and
then 20 more games at the beginning of the 2011-2012 season. Upon
returning, he played eight games, and then missed another 40 games because of
symptoms similar to a concussion (“Sidney Crosby Concussion History”, ESPN)
Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin clearly have impressed
fans and coaches all throughout their career.
They play with different styles, but both players’ tactics have worked for
them for many years. These two will both
go down as two of the greatest players of all time, and their portraits will
spend many years side-by-side in the hall of fame.