After Penguins-Capitals Series, Sidney Crosby Proves He Is the NHL's Best Player

GoucheCorrespondent IMay 16, 2009

WASHINGTON - MAY 13:  Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals and Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins shake hands after Pittsburgh's 6-2 victory in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Semifinal  Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on May 13, 2009 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)


Sidney Crosby vs. Alexander Ovechkin…Sid the Kid vs. Alexander the Great!

As usual it is easy to look back and hear “I told you so” but I love both Ovechkin and Crosby. I have been on record on “Off the Record” as saying it is easier for Ovechkin to deal with the pressure of the NHL scrutiny then it is for Crosby.

Since 15, Crosby has been under a microscope and has been coached as to what he can and cannot say. For Ovechkin, just the fact he does not command the English language that well is a bonus for him. When journalists ask questions to either Crosby or Ovechkin, Crosby’s answer has been coached with the appropriate answer but with Ovechkin, he answers with broken English and with reckless abandon (just like he plays).

Journalists laugh and move on but with Crosby, he needs to be aware of his statements for the league, his endorsers, his fans and cannot use the excuse of language barrier.

They both are fantastic for the game and in my eyes they are 1a and 1b and that changes from game to game, series to series. This last series Crosby is certainly #1a!

Sidney Crosby isn’t the type to say anything but those close to him have voiced that the Pittsburgh Penguins captain felt slighted when he wasn’t named among the three finalist for this year’s NHL MVP award.

He also read and heard a lot of talk this year about how Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin has passed him as the number one player in the league. Crosby, who outscored Ovechkin 12-11 through the first two playoff rounds was a key factor in the Penguins moving onto the third round as the 2005 first overall pick tallied 13 points in the grueling seven game series against the Capitals.

Early in the season Capitals young scorer Alex Semin, who struggled in the Pittsburgh series said some controversial remarks in the media about Crosby being over hyped.

“What’s so special about Crosby?” said Semin. "I don’t see anything special there. Yes, he does skate well, has a good head, (a) good pass. But there’s nothing else.”

Again Crosby isn’t the type to say so but one wonders how much he was motivated by those bulletin board comments. Looking back on what was an action packed series, no one with the Pens is surprised at the maturation of this young leader, who last year as a 20 year-old led Pittsburgh to within two wins of a Stanley Cup.

“There’s a steely resolve about (Crosby) when big games come around,” said Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. “For game six in Philadelphia (in the first round), I didn’t know quite what it meant but I was pretty sure it meant he was going to have a big game. He was that way for every game in this series.”

Showing what kind of clutch player he is Crosby, who’s on ice rivalry with Ovechkin is often compared to the star power of Gordie Howe and Maurice (Rocket) Richard of yesteryear, has registered four goals and an assist in the Pens series winning games against the Flyers and Capitals.

In talking about his performance Crosby acknowledged the fact that both him and Ovechkin wanted to out-do one another in what was the first series they have ever played against one another.

“There were a lot of eyes on this series, it was a battle,” Crosby, whose Penguins will be meet up with the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference finals said. “Individually, we both wanted to make sure we did a great job.”

In beating Washington 6-2 during game seven, the Penguins have become the first team since the 1996 Detroit Red Wings to advance in consecutive springs to the Eastern Conference finals.