Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin Faceoff in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

Mike ThiessenContributor IApril 29, 2009

WASHINGTON - MARCH 08:  Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals controls the puck as Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins defends during the third period of the game on March 8, 2006 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The time has come for the two greatest hockey players in the world to compete on hockey's biggest stage.

The Stanley Cup playoffs.

Hockey fans will be treated with the opportunity to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the Washington Capitals in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Capitals held the edge during head to head matchups during the regular season, winning three of the four games when the teams faced each other.

But the Penguins won the last game they played on Mar. 8 in a shootout.

But perhaps what all hockey fans are most excited about is the matchup between Crosby and Ovechkin.

This is the first time that these players have met in the playoffs.

If you look at their head to head record, the overall advantage goes to Crosby and the Penguins with 11 wins to the Capitals' five wins when Crosby and Ovechkin were both in the lineup.

In those games, Crosby has eight goals and 18 assists for 26 total points. Meanwhile, Ovechkin has been putting up his usual numbers with 10 goals and 11 assists for 21 total points.

But in this series, neither player will care if they get any points as long as their team wins, which means it may come down to the supporting cast.

The Penguins have a long list of players who have plenty of playoff experience. They have the league points leader, Evgeni Malkin, who is arguably a better player then either Crosby or Ovechkin because he can score, pass, and leads the league in takeaways this year.

The list goes on with veteran players like: Gonchar, Guerin, Kunitz, Fleury, Gill, and Sykora.

Meanwhile, the Capitals have their own arsenal.

Ovechkin is complemented with a fantastic supporting cast of players.

Alexander Semin could have possibly led the league in points this year if he had not missed 22 games due to injuries.

Backstrom, Greene, Fedorov, Kozlov, and Poti give the Capitals depth up front and on defense.

Perhaps the area that is going to decide this series is not the firepower up front, but rather the goaltending.

The Capitals have been relying on a young rookie named Simeon Varlamov, who was brilliant during the first round against the Rangers.

He replaced Jose Theodore after Theodore seemed to wilt under the pressure of playoff hockey.

The question will be whether or not Varlamov can outplay the veteran Marc-Andre Fleury, who was brilliant last year in the Penguins run to the finals.

He has been good this year, but not fantastic.

But, if history repeats itself, Fleury will get better as the Penguins get farther into the playoffs.

One thing is for sure, there will be exciting hockey with fast breakouts and lots of shots.

This has the makings to be one of the most exciting playoff series this year.


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