Friday, May 24, 2013

The OV vs. Crosby Debate, and Why It Is Stupid

On October 5, 2005, two heralded prospects made their NHL debuts. Alex Ovechkin scored twice for the Washington Capitals, while Sidney Crosby recorded an assist for the Pittsburgh Penguins. As that debut season went on, it was easy to see that these two young stars would go on to be the face of the NHL.

Over the next few years, until the 2009-2010 season, these two were constantly compared, and it was pretty even, even though Crosby had been part of a Stanley Cup and Olympic winning team. In the past few years, however, with Ovechkin 'slumping,' Crosby had begun to distance himself and was 'by far' the best player in the world, while the emergence of Steven Stamkos left people wondering if Ovechkin was even one of the top two.

When the Capitals lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in February, Mike Milbury went on a rage, blasting Ovechkin about his 'lack of effort' and that 'he should be ashamed of himself.' Since then, the Great 8 was the one who went on a tear, storming to a sensational finish, beating Stamkos to win the goal-scoring title while ending up in a tie for third with Crosby in points. Because of this tear, the two have started being compared once again, as the battle for best player in the world has begun once more.

I just want to say one thing: this comparison is DUMB.

Alex Ovechkin is paid to score goals. That is how he plays. Wingers, whether left or right, are the finishers, the snipers. Centers, like Crosby, are people who do everything, pass, score, play D. Ovechkin has garnered a lot of criticism for being lazy defensively. Well, wingers are usually not very defensive in nature. Looking at past Selke Award winners (given to the best two-way forward), the last eight are all centers. Other than Jere Lehtinen and Bob Gainey no other non-center has won the award more than once. Now, while Ovechkin will not be winning the Selke any time soon, his efforts in Game 6 against the Rangers were still telling of why wingers, especially superstar wingers, don't play D. In the first period, he blocked a shot off of his foot, receiving a hairline fracture which greatly impeded what he could do. Ovechkin should play D, no question, but he should not have his 'lack' of effort compared to Crosby's just because of what he does and doesn't do in the defensive zone.

Crosby is also considered better than Ovechkin because he scores more points. What is surprising about this? There are two reasons: one, Crosby is a center, meaning he will pass a lot more than he will shoot. 41 of Crosby's 56 points last year came due to assists. Two: look at the linemates the two had. Crosby: Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis two scorers. Ovechkin: he finished the season with Nick Backstrom and Marcus Johansson (neither of who are scorers), but also played with Joey Crabb, Matt Hendricks, Wojtek Wolski, and Jason Chimera. Only one of those (Chimera) is a scoring threat, and he had an off year last year, with just two goals. Despite this, Ovechkin still had 24 assists last year, third on the team and top among Caps wingers. You can't expect someone without a bona fide goal scoring threat on his line to assist more than score.

Crosby is the best player in the world. I'm not going to dispute that. But Ovechkin is a close second. The Penguins are the NHL version of the Miami Heat, and Crosby is the LeBron. But the Caps are the Oklahoma City Thunder, a good team which needs to get better to win a championship, and OV is the KD (Kevin Durant). If management wants the Great 8 to get more points, they should bring in a scorer or bring up Evgeny Kuznetsov already. This will take pressure off Ovechkin while allowing himself to get more points as well.

But please let's not compare Crosby and Ovechkin any longer. It just does not work.

No comments:

Post a Comment