Where Do Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin Rank Among the Best NHL Scoring Duos?
They tend to mean that, somewhere along the line, something started going right for an NHL team. Maybe the pair is in place after a few years of toiling in the basement of the league. Perhaps a player out-performs even the highest of predicted ceilings. Or maybe a city managed to land a big fish in the free-agent market.
To make these rankings, two players don't necessarily need to be playing together on the same line—but it's cooler if they are. They just need to be consistently putting up good numbers while playing top-six minutes for their clubs.
If a pair can bring more than points to the board, that's extra points in my book.
As always, these rankings are subjective. That's the fun, right? Let me know what you think I got right and wrong in the comments below. For what it's worth I totally started breaking into cold sweats, trying to rank some of the best hockey players in the world. The margins here are paper-thin.
My pain, your gain. Let's roll.
Matt Duchene & Gabriel Landeskog
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This is a duo that could catapult into the top five or six in the league before their respective careers are over.
Gabriel Landeskog exploded onto the scene last season, doing his best David Backes impersonation and winning the Calder Trophy—albeit with a little help from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and the injury bug.
He's now the youngest captain in NHL history, and is looking to lead the Colorado Avalanche back to their former glory. Along for the ride is Matt Duchene, one of the most promising players around. If he can find another gear (something many onlookers feel that he has) and stay healthy, he could challenge for a scoring title.
He could be that good.
For now though, this is a duo chock full of promise without many accolades or playoff victories to show for it.
Joe Thornton & Logan Couture
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Most of the duos listed here are roughly the same age. Joe Thornton and Logan Couture aren't even from the same generation.
Joe Thornton is 33 now and is entering the last couple productive years of his career. That is, unless he decides to go all Jaromir Jagr on us, which is always a possibility—it's just a tough thing to count on.
Still, Jumbo Joe put up 77 points last season and has yet to ever have issues with injuries. All good signs.
There was no drop-off whatsoever in the production of Logan Couture last season, as he actually increased his point totals. Two talented guys piling up 70 points apiece could keep the San Jose Sharks in contention for at least another few seasons.
And Couture's name will be filling stat sheets long after Thornton has called it quits and had his No. 19 retired in San Jose.
Taylor Hall & Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
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We could sit here and argue all day over which two supremely talented youngsters from the Edmonton Oilers should make up its "scoring duo."
Jordan Eberle at least gets an honorable nod here, as he could prove to be the best of the bunch, but for now I'm going with Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
The only thing preventing these two from being ranked higher is the fact that they have both already had mild issues with injuries early in their respective careers—Hall in particular. If he can stay healthy for the entirety of a season, Hall could finish among the league leaders in scoring
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hasn't had perpetual issues to this point, and he could have been one of the top players in the NHL had he not injured his shoulder, sidelining him for a portion of the season.
RNH is one of the most majestic players in the league once he gets the puck on his stick, and he and Hall should be able to do some serious damage if they're both able to stay off of the IR.
John Tavares & Matt Moulson
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I can't say for sure if an empty gas can could score 30 goals with John Tavares as its center, but I'm tempted to say yes.
That said, Matt Moulson has found considerable chemistry with the all-world pivot, and has the numbers to prove it. M & M has scored more than 30 goals in each of his first three seasons with the New York Islanders.
Coincidentally, that consistency begins at the same time as the career of John Tavares.
The two are on the upswing as Tavares continues to increase his point totals in every season. Could he break 100 points? I say absolutely if Kyle Okposo gets going on the other wing.
Phil Kessel & Joffrey Lupul
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If you believe everything that you read, Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul create the most dangerous scoring duo in the NHL.
I'm going to go ahead and confess that I haven't had many opportunities to watch these two work their magic for the Toronto Maple Leafs. For the last few years I've been relegated to NBC and Versus coverage of the NHL, which typically doesn't involve Canadian teams.
Hey, I don't run the shows here.
I'll be able to rectify that situation with NHL GameCenter this season however, so I'm prepared to eat crow for having Kessel and Lupul ranked this low.
The two are among the most impressive point generators in all of hockey, spending a majority of their ice time together and scoring at a hefty clip. Tack on a top-flight center here and the sky is the limit for the two—not that this is news to anyone in Toronto.
Anze Kopitar & Dustin Brown
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Is there a more fire-and-ice combo in the NHL than Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown?
Kopitar is the dazzler of the pair, making chop suey out of defenses and freezing the opposition with his slick stick handling and vision. He's quietly become a top-10 force in the NHL, and doesn't slack off in the neutral and defensive zones either.
If the towering Kopitar is the ice, then Dustin Brown brings the fire.
The captain of the L.A. Kings tends to make some sort of impact on every shift. Sometimes it's an electric shot, a sick pass or a team-charging body check. He's a perennial 20-goal scorer who tends to do more things that don't show up on the scoresheet.
Still, Kopitar and Brown form one of the more interesting and dynamic duos in the NHL.
Alex Ovechkin & Nicklas Backstrom
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It would have been tough not to put Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom at the top of a list like this just a few years ago.
The law of averages may have sunk in for the duo, however, as Ovechkin's goal-scoring has cooled off considerably and Backstrom has had two years worth forgetting. Last season he missed considerable time on the shelf, and in 2010-11 he failed to come close to his 100-point season of a year prior.
Still, Backstrom is a point-per-game guy when healthy and clicking, and fans in Washington are hoping that new (offensively minded) coach Adam Oates will let the Great 8 off the chain enough to allow him to get back to his high-scoring ways.
Ryan Getzlaf & Corey Perry
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Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf were the victims of "off years" last season as the former posted 60 points, while the latter put up 57.
Having two 60-point players anchoring things up front isn't necessarily a bad thing, but fans of the Anaheim Ducks surely were looking for a little more oomph out of this pairing. They didn't struggle so to speak, but they didn't meet expectations either.
Perry has shown that he can be among the top goal scorers in the league, and Getzlaf is among the premier power forwards in the NHL.
While their point totals may have seen a dip, they both still maintained their collective physical presence down the stretch, which is what makes these two unique. They bring a particular amount of snarl and nastiness that isn't often seen from top-six forwards.
Jonathan Toews & Patrick Kane
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This is where the list got pretty tricky. Rounding up the top five or six, the margins between pairings became almost transparent.
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are among the top young talents in the league, and at just 24 (the both of them), they are still coming into their own as hockey players. Scary to think that we haven't seen the best of this duo, but odds are we haven't.
The already delivered unto the Chicago Blackhawks a Stanley Cup, and that probably won't be the last championship these two can win for the Windy City. Captain Serious and Mr. Why So Serious? are just getting started.
Claude Giroux & Scott Hartnell
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It's a shame that fans and pundits alike have been obsessed with the Claude Giroux-versus-Sidney Crosby angle since the playoffs last season, as the new captain of the Philadelphia Flyers is a pretty darn good hockey player in his own right.
Giroux went from being one of the most promising young players in the NHL to one of the best players in the NHL in what felt like no time, and right there with him was the tough-as-nails Scott Hartnell.
He's the sandpaper of the duo, making room for the more talented Giroux with his physicality, but with plenty of finish of his own. As long as he continues to skate on the same line as the slick pivot, he'll continue to pile up points.
Pavel Datsyuk & Henrik Zetterberg
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Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg could both go down as the biggest draft-day steals ever. Not counting Pavel Bure of course, but that's another kind of steal altogether.
Why the Euro Twins stand out is their neutral zone and defensive zone play. They are both magicians when it comes to hijacking pucks and plays, and creating something from nothing. Datsyuk is more noted for his ability to steal, while Z is an outstanding penalty killer and forechecker.
They both possess top-flight offensive talent and can do things at top speed that most other players can't comprehend. Pav and Z may also be telepathically connected, which just isn't fair.
Steven Stamkos & Martin St. Louis
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There may not be a more terrifying combination, shift-in and shift-out, than Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. Make one mistake against these guys and it typically ends up in the back of the net. Or through the back of the net, in the case of Stamkos.
They both have a remarkable ability to hit top speed in a step or two, and can pull off anything that goes through their minds at that top speed.
Stamkos has already won two Rocket Richard trophies as the NHL's leading goal scorer—there are probably at least that many more in his future—and St. Louis is impervious to aging. Things are looking good for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Sedin Twins
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I don't want to make it seem like I am ranking the Sedin twins as the second-best duo in the NHL. Consider this a 1A and 1B situation—kind of like the goaltending situation for the Vancouver Canucks right now, right?
If Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are telepathically connected, then these two brothers are metaphysically connected. Familiarity is the most powerful force on earth behind a Zdeno Chara slap shot, and these two have it in spades.
The Sedin family mansion requires remodeling ever few seasons, as Henrik and Daniel continue to win individual awards and accolades routinely. I'm sure they'd trade all the the awards and regular-season banners for a Stanley Cup, however.
That, to me, is the difference between the Sedin twins and my top duo in the NHL.
Sidney Crosby & Evgeni Malkin
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No East Coast bias here—when healthy, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are the top one-two punch in all of hockey, bar none.
They get the job done in every situation. Crosby is one of the most clutch players on planet earth, and Malkin is a generational talent. They've already won a Stanley Cup and been to the finals one other time.
There was a bit of a letdown last year as they were disposed of by the Philadelphia Flyers in the playoffs, but with a full (kind of) season with Crosby and with Malkin maintaining his Hart Trophy form, the Pittsburgh Penguins will continue to be Stanley Cup favorites.
This season, and until age slows the most dangerous scoring duo in the league.
Franklin Steele is a hockey analyst for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter for someone to talk hockey with 24/7, or like him on Facebook so you can say you liked him before all your friends. He'll make you chili and send you an Internet high-five.