Flyers captain Claude Giroux is now Sidney Crosby's top rival.
When the Pittsburgh Penguins used to take the ice against the Washington Capitals, the game between the two teams was almost secondary to the individual battle between Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin.
But that battle reached its peak in a 2009 playoff series between the two teams that saw the Penguins win in seven games. It has since lost its luster.
Crosby missed much of the last two seasons with concussion-related problems. Ovechkin doesn't appear to be the player he once was.
Instead of scoring 50 or more goals per year, Ovechkin scored 32 and 38 goals over the last two years. This season, Ovechkin has continued his decline with only four goals in his first 12 games.
The decline of the Crosby-Ovechkin rivalry means that other individual battles will step into the void.
We are not looking at team, coaching or announcer rivalries. Here's a look at six player rivalries that will replace the dormant Crosby-Ovechkin battle.
Sidney Crosby will almost certainly be the top scorer in the NHL if he can stay healthy this season.
Thomas Vanek of the Buffalo Sabres is leading the league in scoring through the first three weeks with 23 points. Sidney Crosby has 17 points and is starting to roll. He should be able to catch Vanek shortly.
Claude Giroux announced himself as one of the top players in the league when he scored 93 points for the Flyers last season. While he is off to a slow start with seven points through Feb. 10, there is no reason to think he won't dominate for the Flyers before another 10 games of the season goes by.
Giroux and Crosby took their battle to a personal level last year in the postseason when the Flyers won a six-game playoff series.
Every time the Flyers and Penguins square off, the battle between Crosby and Giroux is special.
Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins steamrolled Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller in a Nov. 2011 game in Boston.
After the game, Miller condemned Lucic for his actions.
The Sabres did not respond adequately to Lucic's big hit on the star goalie. Instead of engaging in hockey justice, the Sabres appeared to take it.
In the offseason, Buffalo brought in John Scott to become the team's designated tough guy. It also brought in Steve Ott from Dallas to add even more grit.
In the Sabres' first game this year, Scott engaged Bruins tough guy Shawn Thornton and gave him a one-sided beating. In the second Bruins-Sabres game, Buffalo tough guy Patrick Kaleta got the best of Boston forward Greg Campbell.
The Sabres have responded to Lucic's check by adding some needed toughness. However, they won't truly avenge the hit until they can beat the Bruins regularly.
In 2013, the teams have split two meetings.
Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes and Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings are a pair of hard-hitting team captains.
They fought during the regular season last year (video above) and battled during the playoffs as well. During the postseason, Brown caught the Coyotes' Michal Rozsival with a hard hit that appeared to be a knee-on-knee collision.
The Coyotes were incensed that Brown was not punished severely for the action.
When the playoff series ended in the Kings' favor, Brown attempted to explain his actions to Doan in the post-series handshake line. Doan was not ready to listen to any excuses and brushed by Brown (per The Score).
Every Kings-Coyotes game has a chance to be a major physical battle as a result of the intense feelings between Brown and Doan.
Jonathan Toews may be one of the hardest-working superstars in the NHL.
Pavel Datsyuk is clearly one of the league's most skilled players.
Every time the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings get together, the rivalry between Toews and Datsyuk plays itself out.
This is not an ugly, nasty rivalry that is going to play out in a fight or a stick-swinging battle. Instead, the skills and effort of these two talented players form the basis of the rivalry.
There may be plenty of dislike between these two Original Six teams, but the underlying theme of Toews-Datsyuk is respect.
This goes back to the 2010 NHL draft, when the scouting services had Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin rated as the top two prospects in the draft.
When it came time to finally make the selection, the Edmonton Oilers picked Hall with the No. 1 pick and the Boston Bruins selected Seguin with the No. 2 pick.
The difference between the two was razor-thin.
While they play in opposite conferences and will not meet in 2013, the two are still compared with each other.
If the Oilers can make the expected improvement and become a team that contends for the Stanley Cup (in 2014, 2015 or beyond) while the Bruins remain contenders, the Hall-Seguin rivalry could reach new heights.
These two high-scoring centers have had a strong dislike for each other for years.
The most memorable confrontation took place at the start of the sixth game of their first-round playoff series in 2009 when Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks and Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks engaged in a shocking fight right after the opening faceoff (video above).
You don't expect the two teams' top centers to engage in a brawl, but that's just what happened in a game and series that the Ducks ended up winning.
There were no serious blows landed, but it's clear that the two don't like each other.
Thornton has started the 2013 season in good form, with 14 points in his first 11 games. Getzlaf has nine points in his first 11 games for the red-hot Ducks.