The battle for the best player in the league starts Saturday.
Nevermind who won the Art Ross; nevermind who's taking the Hart Trophy; nevermind who's team had the better regular season record. The best player take his team to the Cup. In this case the Penguins have the advantage, they have two players who can carry a team while Washington only has one.
Okay so I'm probably buying into the hype a little, but the media is right when they say this will be an unforgettable match-up. This series will show us who will be the one to step up and ultimately bring their team to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Lets look at Hockey's Holy Trinity.
Ovechkin is clearly the most prolific scorer in the league and has been for the past two years. His supporting cast has helped them to the second seed in the 2009 playoffs and helped them overcome a 3-1 deficit to the Rangers. Ovie has power, strength, and a laser shot that rivals anyone in the league. He also topped 50 goals for the second straight season proving to be an elite if not the elite player in the NHL.
STATS - Regular season: 110 Points, 56 goals, 54 assists in 79 games. Post-Season: 7 points, 3 goals, 4 assists in 7 games.
Crosby on the other hand is a more complete player than Ovie in that while he has the ability to score, he can pretty much make a play out of anything. His surgeon-like puck control, impeccable timing, and soft hands provide him with a deadly combination that enables him to slice through defenders all day. Landing only second to Malkin in assists and third overall in points, Sid the kid has shown pretty well he is not only the best center in the league, but the best player as well.
STATS - Regular season: 103 Points, 33 goals, 70 assists in 77 games. Post-Season: 8 points, 4 goals, 4 assists in 6 games.
Malkin is a different animal altogether. His ability to take the puck to the net surpasses both Crosby and Ovechkin. Malkin's size, speed, and strength allows him to shield players and create a shot where this appears to be none. Malkin also packs a pretty mean (and accurate) slapshot that has helped the Penguins capitalize on many a powerplay. Getting his first career Art Ross trophy this season, Malkin has something to prove this post-season. In my opinion he's been the most dominant all year and deserves the Hart. Though having Crosby on your team lowers his chances at being the "most valuable player" to your team.
STATS - Regular season: 113 Points, 35 goals, 78 assists in 82 games. Post-Season: 9 points, 4 goals, 5 assists in 6 games.
Barry Melrose may disagree, but I'm convinced we shall know by the end of this series who will be the best player in the league right now. This provides us fans and critics the ability to finally get a chance to see three titans go head to head against one another.