Over the past few months, I have read countless articles focusing on the match-up between Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. Different views have been shared, but most would take Ovechkin over Crosby in a head-to-head battle.
With that out of the way, it's time to look at the real rivalry which consists of Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin. It can be classified as that due to the fact that both of these guys seem to target one-another on the ice when the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins meet.
They're both big athletes with plenty of talent and determination. Who will forget Ovechkin bouncing off his Russian counterpart into the boards after attempting to deliver a hit?
Let's be true to ourselves, Crosby doesn't throw the body and he most likely never will on a regular basis.
That's why I can't call it a rivalry between Ovechkin and Crosby. Simply put, the kid won't do everything that No.8 does for the better of his team. Jumping an unexpected Brett McLean isn't exactly the way you get respect in the league.
It was great to see Malkin and Ovechkin having fun together at the All-Star Game. While they may be friends, expect both of these guys to continue pushing each other in the future battles. Great players like matching up against their best competitors.
Ovechkin's success in the league is no secret, but Malkin's story isn't as known. The native of Magnitogorsk came to the league in the 2006/2007 season and scored a goal in each of his first six games. This hadn't been achieved since 1917 when Joe Malone scored in 14 straight games.
Unsurprisingly, Malkin took the Calder Trophy that year with 33 goals, and 52 assists for 85 points. Many still felt that he couldn't play without Crosby in the lineup. Interestingly enough, that's just what occurred last season when the 1st overall pick in the 2005 draft went down with an ankle injury.
Malkin took the team on his back, and led the Penguins in scoring with 44 points in the 28 games Crosby sat out. The 106-point season was just six short of Ovechkin's Art Ross Trophy winning 112-point campaign.
This year, it's more of the same as Malkin is leading the NHL in points with 80. The frightening statistic is that he's only played 55 games. Who benefits the most from this? The league does.
Instead of just Ovechkin and Crosby, there is now a third superstar taking the league by storm. Everyone knows Malkin can fire the puck, but his passing has improved steadily as well. We may be looking at the future's best hockey player.
The media has always labelled him a quiet player who doesn't speak much during interviews. In a recent game with Tampa Bay where the Penguins were trailing 3-0 heading into the third, Malkin spoke to his team in the dressing room.
A comeback would ensue thanks in large part to his two goal, one assist performance which included the overtime winner. There was also the matter of a $1,000 offerred by Malkin to his teammates if the game was won.
An odd technique it was, but also a huge sign of leadership abilities.
If Evgeni Malkin's career has taught us anything, it's that actions speak louder than words.