The difference between the two is that Sidney Crosby’s main influence was Wayne Gretzky. I think Ovechkin’s is Rasputin.
Ovechkin is mercurial, emotional. He brandishes the hockey player’s badge of honour, a missing front tooth, like a ceremonial mace. We were talking in his first year and he was struggling to find a word in English. He laid his left fingers across his right. Try it. The word he was looking for? Prison. That, friends, is an expansive thinker.
Ovechkin relentlessly seeks out contact. He redefines how a hockey player can score. His release is another man’s twitch. The Hockey News found when you work league-wide goals per game into the equation, Ovechkin has been as prolific a goalscorer in his first four years as Wayne Gretzky was in his. Bill Torrey, longtime GM of the New York Islanders contends that for much of a game, players simply don’t think about scoring. The real goal scorers prowl about the game looking for just those moments. Mike Bossy, Torrey said, was such a player. Ovechkin is another.
Ovechkin is an artist powered by his own passion to score. His celebrations, his ill-conceived ‘hot stick’dance after he scored his 50th and the bar tab that is making the internet rounds, are built to scale.
Crosby is the third generation superstar. The elements Gordie Howe brought from Floral, Saskatchewan, decency, humility, were picked up by Gretzky in Brantford and, a generation later, Crosby in Cole Harbor.
The exotic defines Ovechkin. Its absence is what makes Crosby Crosby. For all his skills - he is a powerful skater who is profoundly difficult to knock off the puck – he is positionally much less reckless and therefore far more sound than Ovechkin. Crosby does what everyone else can do, only better. Ovechkin does what no one can manage. That’s the difference.
Crosby scored truly pathetic goals vs Capitals. Would there be a better defensemen like what Red Wings have, or a meaner, more physical, Pronger type, would it be a goalie who "eats" rebounds, Crosby would score two goals at most. Crosby is quick, but he doesn't have either a good slapshot or a good wrist shot, even Malkin, who kisses Crosby's ass, admits it. So yeah, he used his quickness, no question, but like Darren Elliot said, "he played like a grinder, the most gifted grinder".
And this is what Crosby is, a grinder.
The National Post, May 11, 2009:
"[What's remarkable about Russians is] just the overall skill level that they have," said Capitals defenceman Mike Green, a Calgary native and the game's premier offensive defenceman, earlier in this series. "Their skill, and their sight, and their vision on the ice is incredible, and as a Canadian guy - we're not taught skill. We're taught dump-and-chase-and-hit, and battle until you score."
That has summed up much of Crosby's work in this series. Saturday night, he did produce a sweeping rush to the net in the first frantic seconds of overtime, but failed to finish. Otherwise he has been, as ex-player and analyst Darren Elliot admiringly described Crosby to espn.com's Scott Burnside before this series, "the most gifted grinder in the game."
Need to buy something on Amazon? Order via this blog, show support.