Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin of the Washington Capitals have accounted for 45 points this season. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
Simply because I live and work in Toronto, many people ask if I’m a Leafs fan. My answer is always the same: “I’m a fan of exciting hockey played by exciting players. And the day that describes the Leafs, I’ll be a Leafs fan again.”
With that as my approach, my fandom currently centers around Detroit, Washington, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Montreal. And in the near future, I can see myself looking out for games involving Columbus, Edmonton, Phoenix and Los Angeles.
Now that you have a little better idea about which teams I enjoy watching play, here’s my list of the top 10 NHL duos I most enjoy watching play:
10. Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley
• These guys aren’t having the best start to the year, but there’s few purer snipers in the league than Heatley and even fewer set-up men as slick as Spezza.
9. Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen
• This is a relatively new duo, especially with ‘The Mule’ having been hurt most of the year. But Zetterberg is magic with the puck and Franzen is a bull with hands. Together the two are dangerous whenever they’re on the ice.
8. Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St-Louis
• The longest-serving duo of note in the NHL is still one of its most exciting. Like Spezza and Heatley, Lecavalier and St-Louis are off to relatively slow starts, but that’s as much a product of the storm the Lightning has become as anything else.
7. Henrik and Daniel Sedin
• Watching the twins work together is like watching a psyche experiment. There’s just no way these two are only used to playing together; there’s more to it than that, which is what makes it fun watching them play.
6. Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer
• Tough for a defense pairing to make this list, especially at No. 6, but these two offer the league’s best example of thunder and lightning. Pronger is probably the meanest and dirtiest player in the league, but can still put up points with the best blueliners out there. Niedermayer is the Steve Nash of the NHL. He plays like a rover; weaving in and out of traffic with the puck and into open ice without it, thinking two passes ahead of most others.
5. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry
• Two of the league’s young up-and-comers. These are skill guys with a nasty side. They can bang and bash with the big boys in one end, then dangle and score a beaut in the other.
4. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane
• The two super-sophomores are the future in Chicago and look to be a pair the league can hang its hat on as well. Kane reminds me of his former coach, Denis Savard, while Toews could be another Steve Larmer.
3. Pavel Datsyuk and Marian Hossa
• Not only are these two top offensive guys, they play the game the way it’s meant to be played – hard at both ends of the ice. There may not be a better all-around duo in the league.
2. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin
• Hard to say right now which of these two is the better player. Crosby is the face of the NHL, but Malkin is the scoring leader and has the best rivalry in the league going with Alex Ovechkin. Skill-wise, they’re both off the charts, but both need to put the biscuit in the basket more. Whenever they’re playing, it’s hard to pull myself away from the game.
1. Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin
• Easily the duo I want to see play the most are the two Alexes. In my opinion, Ovechkin is the best forward in the league; he scores, hits, always plays hard and his joy for playing is infectious. Semin is right at the top of the list when it comes to skill level in the NHL and just might be the heir to Joe Sakic when it comes to best wrist shots in the league. Together they’re dominating the league like no other duo this season, both averaging better than a point per game – despite Ovie’s slow start – and better than a plus-1 rating per game – an even better barometer of how dominating they’ve been thus far.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
If you enjoy this feature, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine for the exclusive countdown, Starting From 10, and other great features from the world of hockey.