Since Crosby and Ovechkin came into the league, there has been no better rivalry in the NHL. But now that both have hoisted the Stanley Cup, is it still a rivalry?
Alexander Ovechkin took the league by storm after being selected 1st overall in the 2004 draft. Delayed by a year due to the 2004-05 NHL lockout, his rookie season came in 2005-06 when he recorded 106 points (52 goals, 54 assists) in 81 games. However he wasn’t the only rookie standing in the spotlight that year. Sidney Crosby, drafted 1st overall in 2005, recorded 102 points (39 goals, 63 assists) in 81 games. Even though Ovechkin took home the Calder trophy that year, all eyes were still on Sidney Crosby. This was only the spark of a feud that would last for over 14 years.
The 2008-09 Playoffs
The Pittsburgh Penguins & Washington Capitals didn’t meet in the playoffs until the 2008-09 season in the 2nd round. The Penguins were coming off a 4-2 series win against the Philadelphia Flyers while the Capitals won a hard fought 4-2 series over the New York Rangers. The Pens & Caps battled back and fourth until it was time for game 7, where the Penguins came out on top. While the Capitals licked their wounds, the Penguins would ultimately go on to hoist their 1st Stanley Cup since 1992. Sidney Crosby recorded 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists) in 24 games & Ovechkin recorded 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists) in 14 games.
The 2015-16 Playoffs
The two teams would not meet again until the 2015-16 season. It was 7 years of playoff failures (and misses) by both teams. Much like the 1st time, they met in the 2nd round. Since it had been so long since the two superstars have crossed paths, there was clearly a ton of hype surrounding the series. It did not disappoint. It would go 6 games in favor the Penguins but would end with some fireworks.
Nick Bonino would send Pittsburgh into a madhouse after scoring in OT to close out the series. You can view the goal here. Much like 2009, the Penguins would go on to win the Cup that year. Sidney Crosby also was rewarded his 1st Conn Smythe trophy as well with 19 points (6 goals, 13 assists) in 24 games. Ovechkin would end the playoffs with 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists) in 12 games.
The 2016-17 Playoffs
The wait for the next time these two meet wouldn’t be too far down the road. The following season, they met in the 2nd round once again. The Penguins looked like a team poised for another strong Cup run while the Capitals were the favorites to win it all. But this time, there were some very different fireworks from the series.
Matt Niskanen would deliver a cross-check to the head of Sidney Crosby in game 3 of the series, which you can see here. That would keep the superstar sidelined for part of the series, the Penguins didn’t let up. They’d have a healthy Sidney Crosby back in the lineup for game 7 of the series back in Washington. Capitals were coming off a dominating win in game 6 as well. But the Capitals would again come up short & would be sent packing in the 2nd round.
Again, much like the 1st two times, the Penguins would go on to win the Stanley Cup. Sidney Crosby would be rewarded his 2nd Conn Smythe as well. He recorded 27 points (8 goals, 19 assists) in 24 games. Ovechkin would record 8 points (5 goals, 3 assists) in 13 games.
The 2017-18 Playoffs
It would be another short wait for to see the two players meet for another best-of-seven series. And like all the other times, it would come in the 2nd round. The Penguins were coming off back-to-back Cups and looked like a team utterly deflated after their 1st round series against the Philadelphia Flyers. Then it really showed in their 6 game defeat to the Washington Capitals who finally exorcised the demons by beating the Penguins.
Once you start knocking down barriers that have held you back for years, you know things are about the get special. The Capitals would go on to win the Stanley Cup that year defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in 5 games. You can see the celebration here. Ovechkin would capture his 1st Conn Smythe trophy as well. Crosby finished the playoffs with 21 points (9 goals, 12 assists) in 12 games. Ovechkin would finish with 27 points (15 goals, 12 assists) in 24 games.
Has the rivalry finally ended?
Sidney Crosby & Alexander Ovechkin have now been on top of the hockey mountain. They have both done everything there is to do in the game. Will they ride off into the sunset now? Highly unlikely. These two have been compared by analysts & fans for over a decade. I think that will continue until the day they both hang up the skates for good.
Where We Are Now.
– 3x Cup winner, 7x all-star, 3x Pearson,2x Hart, 2x Conn Smythe, 2x Richard, 2x Ross winner.
–1,216 career points (446 goals, 770 assists) in 943 games.
– 1x Cup winner, 11x all-star, 8x Richard 3x Hart, 3x Pearson, 1x Ross, 1x Conn Smythe, 1x Calder winner.
–1,211 career points (658 goals, 553 assists) in 1,084 games.
Feature Image Courtesy of Nikos Michals