Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ovie vs. Crosby

The dream playoff matchup that the NHL head office has dreamed of since 2005 finally happened this spring and indeed so far it has lived up to the hype. The game of one ups manship between the game's two biggest stars has been phenomenal to watch, especially game 2 when both of them recorded hat-tricks. If Gary Bettman wasn't so busy trying to defend his disastrous sun-belt market franchises from Jim Balsillie he'd probably be wetting himself with glee at how well this series has gone. It's been a fantastic marketing tool for the NHL almost like (although not quite the same as they aren't meeting for the Stanley Cup) Magic vs. Bird during the 80's for the NBA. This series has also done something very important, it has shown just how different their styles of play are and that they can't deffiate from those styles if they want to be effective. When Crosby was trying to go goal for goal with Ovechkin during the first two games his team was losing because if Crosby is trying to score goals the play of his linemates plummits. Crosby is a passer, not a goal scorer. His passing and playmaking are what make his team and linemates better then they would be on their own and as he was trying to match goal total's with Ovechkin his team was suffering. However in the last three games he's gone back to his playmaking self and to no suprise the Penguins are faring much better. As we all no Ovechkin is the premier sniper in the NHL and he has 7 goals in 5 games in this series. He's a decent passer but his forté is definitely shooting the puck and this opens up room for his teammates as the opposition is constently focused on shutting down Ovechkin.

This series has also proved that right now anyway, the Pittsburgh Penguins are a better team then the Washington Capitals especially on the defensive side of the puck. Offensively the teams are pretty much even but on the back end the Penguins are definitely superior as well as their overall play in their own end. Capitals all-star defenseman Mike Green has completely disappeared this spring in both of the Caps playoff series and this has significantly weakened the Capitals backend play as there really isn't much beyond him on their blueline and at this point in time Marc-Andre Fleury is outplaying Simeone Varlamov. The Penguins will likely win game six and go on to the Eastern final as the Capitals have much to improve on in the own end but whether they can do it in time for a series victory or if it's something that they'll have to do in time for next season to go further into to post-season is another question.

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