Crosby versus Ovechkin: who’s better, 10 years later?

Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)

It will be 10 years this week since Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin debuted in the NHL. The 2004-05 lockout produced the happy accident of two No. 1 overall picks commencing their careers simultaneously and, fair or not, they were destined for constant comparison. It didn’t matter that they played different positions, Crosby center and Ovechkin left wing. They were the most exciting young forces in a league desperate for new flag bearers, and they’ve delivered on that hype time and again.

Who’s better? The pendulum seems to swing back and forth year to year:

It’s Ovechkin, the big, fast, energetic man-child who helps Russia to world junior gold and goes first overall in the 2004 draft.

No, it’s Crosby, the generational talent who torches major junior like no player since Eric Lindros and goes first overall in 2005.

No, it’s ‘Ovie,’ the 2005-06 Calder Trophy winner. He outscores Crosby with 52 goals, many of them with jaw-dropping beauty.

No, damn it, it’s ‘Sid the Kid.’ He explodes for 120 points as a 19-year-old sophomore to win the Art Ross and Hart Trophies in 2006-07. Youngest MVP in league history. Youngest scoring champion in major professional sports history.

Come on. It’s Ovechkin. Sid sits out with a bum ankle for a large chunk of 2007-08 while ‘Alexander the GR8’ becomes the first player to score 65 goals in 12 years. He wins two straight MVPs.

Crosby’s turn. The pair face off in the 2009 Eastern Conference semifinal between Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins and Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals. Both stars notch hat tricks in Game 2. The best player torch passes back to Crosby, whose Penguins play for the Stanley Cup for the second straight year and this time take it home. He’s the youngest captain in league history to hoist the chalice. A year later? Golden goal in overtime at the Vancouver Games to crown Canada Olympic champion.

Then it’s Ovechkin again, by default. His game slips under coach Dale Hunter, but at least Ovechkin is on the ice. Crosby misses bushels of games with concussion woes. He plays just 63 times from 2010-11 to 2011-12. His career is in jeopardy. Ovechkin scores 32 goals in an abbreviated 48-game season, and 2012-13 yields his third MVP.

Surprise: it’s Crosby again. He’s back healthy. He wins the 2013-14 scoring crown by 17 points. Another MVP. Ovechkin answers in 2014-15 with his second straight 50-goal campaign and fifth Rocket Richard Trophy.

And on it goes.

After a decade of constantly mentioning them in the same breath, where does the debate rest? Does one finally have an edge over the other? And is the answer still relevant as they approach the end of their primes?

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T.J. Oshie shows off ridiculous shootout skills, shakes Eddie Lack with incredible move

Jared Clinton
TJ Oshie (via Monumental Network/Washington Capitals)

The Capitals’ swap with the Blues, which saw Troy Brouwer head west in exchange T.J. Oshie, was a deal made primarily to give Washington a top-line right winger with a bit more offensive talent. But in landing Oshie, the Capitals also managed to acquire one of the most effective shootout weapons in the game. Wednesday night, he showed why he’s heralded as one of the game’s most lethal breakaway players.

In the pre-season tilt between Carolina and Washington, regulation solved nothing and the teams played through overtime without either side breaking the draw. With the shootout underway, Oshie was the first Capital to get an attempt, and he made no mistake. Read more

The Metropolit Brothers: one pro hockey player, one convicted felon

Glen Metropolit (Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s a sunny summer morning in Toronto and Glen Metropolit is back home. Well, not exactly. Home is actually a little west of the Starbucks where he’s sitting. To be in an upscale coffee shop at all has to be considered a triumph for him. That’s because Glen grew up in a neighborhood called Regent Park, which was one of the most notorious and densely populated projects in Canada.

Constructed in the late 1940s, it was established to narrow the divide between the poor and the well off. The social experiment ended in disaster. Just a stone’s throw from the financial district where billions of dollars flow every day, Regent Park was once described by a local newspaper this way: “Living here is like getting kicked in the teeth.” The area has been gentrified in recent years and now includes mixed income housing, but back in the day it epitomized the dead end street for the disenfranchised. Glen’s 83-year-old grandmother still lives in Regent Park, but when he comes back to visit in the summer he couch surfs at the homes and apartments of his old friends in the area. He’s used to that, since he moved about 50 times when he was a kid, by his estimation, including foster homes.

Glen’s cellphone rings as he sips his coffee. It’s his younger half-brother, Troy Metropolit. As the two make plans, Glen says his brother’s name at the end of every sentence. “So, what time are you free, Troy?” “Should I pick you up at your girlfriend’s place, Troy?” The name sounds foreign coming from his mouth, given Glen just saw his brother in June for the first time in 16 years, when he was 25 and Troy 22.

“I can’t believe I can just pick up the phone and talk to him whenever I want to,” he says. Read more

Eddie Lack absolutely robs Jakub Vrana with toe save in pre-season action

Jared Clinton
Eddie Lack makes a toe save on Jakub Vrana (via NHL/YouTube)

For the third consecutive season, goaltender Eddie Lack is entering the season as one of the better backup goaltenders in the league but has a veteran starter who he’ll have to beat out if he wants the No. 1 job. If style points count for anything, Lack might have gotten himself a slight lead on Hurricanes starter Cam Ward to start the pre-season.

Early in the second frame of Carolina’s pre-season opener against the Washington Capitals, Lack was caught moving the opposite direction on a beautiful pass across the ice by Stanislav Galiev to Jakub Vrana. With Lack out of position, the 19-year-old Vrana patiently pulled the puck across the crease and opened up the entire right side of the goal.

But with nothing but daylight to slide the puck into, Lack stretched out his massive 6-foot-4 frame and got his left leg out in time to stifle Vrana’s attempt: Read more

AHL Logo Ranking: No. 1 – Hershey Bears

Jared Clinton
Hershey Bears logo ( Creamer)

(The AHL has undergone a season of change and one-third of the league has changed locations or logos for the 2015-16 season. Leading up to the new season, The Hockey News will be ranking the logos of the league’s teams and offering a brief look at the history of each franchise. See the rest of the rankings in our AHL feed.)

At times, it feels like any season in Hershey that doesn’t culminate with the club hoisting the Calder Cup is a failure. Over the past decade, the Bears have made it to the finals in four seasons and taken home three Calder Cups to give them 11 overall, the most in league history.

After a disappointing 2013-14 in which they missed the post-season, the Bears bounced back in 2014-15 to not only make it to the playoffs but advance to the second round by defeating the Worcester Sharks 3-1 in the best-of-five playoff opener.

The turnaround in Hershey this off-season has been plentiful, however. Of their top-10 scorers in 2014-15, the top four are all gone. Tim Kennedy and Casey Wellman signed in the KHL, while Chris Conner and Kris Newbury are heading elsewhere in the AHL next season. They’ve also lost Tomas Kundratek to the KHL and Jim O’Brien to the New Jersey Devils organization.

However, few teams got the boost in the off-season that Hersey did. In their lineup next season, they’ll have Chris Bourque (29 goals, 66 points in 2014-15), Carter Camper (15 goals, 52 points), Sean Collins (17 goals, 36 points) and Paul Carey (15 goals, 34 points), as well as defensemen Taylor Chorney (four goals, 19 points) and Aaron Ness (eight goals, 45 points). All but Chorney would have been top-10 scorers in Hershey this past season, and Chorney barely misses the cut.

Youngsters Jakub Vrana, Riley Barber, Chris Brown and Stanislav Galiev also project to have great seasons in 2015-16, while Bears fans must also be excited about the potential for defenseman Madison Bowey to step in and make an impact.

In goal, veteran Dan Ellis has come in to help carry the workload alongside Justin Peters.

Last year Hershey was out in the second round, but there’s reason to be confident in the club’s ability to best that performance this season. Read more

THN’s 2015-16 NHL season preview: Washington Capitals

The Hockey News
Braden Holtby (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

2014-15 Record: 45-26-11 (101 pts.)

THN’s Prediction: 1st, Metropolitan Division

What To Expect: The past decade of Washington Capitals hockey has annually featured Alex Ovechkin in the Rocket Richard race but hasn’t seen the game’s most prolific scorer compete beyond the second round of the playoffs. This year, that changes.

The league’s sixth-best offense (tied with Calgary) is bolstered by a couple right wing additions: T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams, a duo with more firepower than the departing Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer. If either finds chemistry with Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, 60 goals are well within reach for No. 8. With ascending youngsters Andre Burakovsky and Evgeny Kuznetsov also in the top-six mix, Washington will again be defined by rocking the red light. Read more

Curtis Glencross wishes he didn’t take a hometown discount with Flames

Jared Clinton
Curtis Glencross (Rich Lam/Getty Images)

After scoring 13 goals and 35 points, Curtis Glencross remains without a deal for the 2015-16 season. And with the speedy winger still looking for a contract, he’s having some regrets about his prior four-year deal with the Calgary Flames.

In May 2011, Glencross inked a four-year, $10.2 million deal with the Flames. It was considered to be less than Glencross may have been able to fetch on the open market, especially as he was coming off of a 24-goal, 43-point campaign.

“I love my time in Calgary and the organization, but you learn that eventually it’s a business and you’re just a number,” Glencross told the Calgary Sun’s Eric Francis. “If I could do it again … as much as I love (Calgary) and call it home and met great people, at the same time, when it’s time for you to cash in, you have to take advantage and cash in. You can’t take a pay-cut or hometown discount because things change.” Read more