Monday, December 11, 2006

Crosby VERSUS Ovechkin

Hockey Fact of Life #4: The Capitals will always roll over for the Penguins.

What a difference this season has been for both teams. Ovechkin and Crosby have both proven themselves in the NHL from the get-go, and now their latest challenge is to see if the respective promotion machines for Crosby and Ovechkin can gather more attention and help build the sport back to where it should be.

The new channel Versus tonight was well aware of the rivalry and intended to push all their attention on the one-on-one stat battle between the two #1s. Clement and crew all must have gotten the memo from "up on high" that strongly suggested highlighting the two young stars. In each period break, VS. Network gave an intricate examination of each players ability and studied their fundamentals and showed off their intangible skills. (I wonder what the NHL Network talked about all night?)

So... I think this game tonight really set out a large advantage to Crosby tonight as he can get his team up to the win while the disputed 2006 Rookie of the Year can only salvage a point. Head to head, the Penguins had Ovechkin scouted as they knew that most of "Great 8"s moves come from charging the net fast and poking it through up close. Tonight, the Penguins defense was at least ready to clear the crease and poke-check Ovechkin's attempts. Crosby took what he was given from the Capitals and waited for the one opportunity from the open space and blasted things home. (and of course, Crosby doesn't hit from behind and board someone from behind going for a line-change)

The last laugh is the true story of tonight's game where Evgeny "Geno" Malkin got lost in the pre-game hype and stole the show scoring the beautiful OT winner.

The game hopefully is another watermark in the history of a good rivalry being built that the NHL is banking the future of the league on. And the rising tide of fan support for Crosby has been improving given the choice between the two. After the game, both The Hockey News and NHL Network ran a poll that (although not final) are quite telling as who has the upper-hand. Both websites use an IP tracker, so Ovechkin fans can't claim ballot stuffing. One computer, one vote.

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