The NHL is on center stage thanks to the second round playoff match up between the Penguins and Capitals, but despite the success of both teams, viewers will be watching for one reason- Alex Ovechkin versus Sidney Crosby.
Ovechkin and Crosby have quickly become the “faces” of a sport that has been struggling to regain popularity since a work stoppage a few years ago.
Rivalries like Magic vs. Bird, Sampras vs. Agassi, and Kareem vs. Wilt are what make sports great, and the NHL had been lacking a rivalry between big time stars since the Gretzky/Lemieux rivalries of the early 90’s.
All of the “rivalries” I mentioned are different then the Oveckin/Crosby rivalry in the fact that both participants respected each other, and were older stars that had been at the top their sport for years.
Both Ovechkin and Crosby are under the age of 24 and they not only battle on the ice, but off the ice as well.
Some comments made by both players towards the other has helped fuel the rivalry and leave people wondering if they even have the mutual respect for each other that is so common in many of the sports “rivalries”.
Ovechkin views Crosby as “soft” while Crosby views Ovechkin as a player who likes to showboat and only wants the attention on him.
Hockey, much like basketball, is a team sport where one player can single handely be the difference between winning and losing, so both Ovechkin and Crosby will not only be the focus of each other but the focus of the opposing team as well.
Success is one thing that makes rivalries great and both players have changed the fortunes of their franchises that were toiling in futility for many years before their arrival.
Crosby led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Final last season while Ovechkin finally got the proverbial “monkey” off his back and let the Capitals to the second round of the playoffs this season.
Playoffs are where stars are born, legends are made and legacies are cemented with great performances. Despite being at the beginning of their careers’ both Ovechkin and Crosby’s legacies could be cemented in how they play in this series.
I am a casual hockey fan but I can’t remember ever looking forward to a playoff hockey series like I am with this one. Caps fans hate Crosby and Penguins fans hate Ovechkin and that will make for a tremendous and electric atmosphere throughout the whole series.
All eyes will be on Ovechkin and Crosby, and for at least four games; hockey will be in the main stream.
For a sport that is trying to gain popularity in the United States, this series will bring attention and draw even the most casual fan to the sport.
So for those non hockey fans out there, do yourself a favor and sit down turn on NBC and watch Alex the Great and Sid the Kid, they might just be the most talented players in ALL OF SPORTS.