Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin first met at the gold medal game at the 2005 World Junior Hockey Championship in Grand Folks, North Dakota. It resulted in a one-sided victory for Crosby and Team Canada. When they first entered the NHL later that same year, they became the faces of the league as they revived a fan base after the lockout cancelled season.
In 12 seasons of playing against each other, Ovechkin was the first one out of the two to reach 1,000 career points. He did it in career game number 880 on January 11th, 2017 when he scored against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Ovechkin became the 24th fastest player to reach 1,000 points as he now joins fellow Russians Sergei Fedorov, Alexander Mogilny and Alexi Kovalev in the 1,000-point club.
Ovechkin is not the only player to reach 1,000 career points this season. Vancouver Canucks captain Henrik Sedin became the 85th player to reach 1,000 career points on January 19th against the Florida Panthers. Ironically, he scored on his former teammate Roberto Luongo as Henrik is the fourth Swede to reach the milestone. On the other hand, Ovechkin’s nemesis, Sidney Crosby, just became the 86th player to reach 1,000 career points.
Crosby is now the 13th fastest player in history to reach the milestone. He reached the milestone tonight with an assist on a Chris Kunitz goal against the Winnipeg Jets. In 757 career games, Sid the Kid is now the third-fastest of all-time to reach 1,000 points behind only Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.
The Crosby and Ovechkin debate has been going on for so long, it’s fitting to witness the two of them reach the same milestone in the same season.
When it comes to goals, Ovechkin holds a much bigger lead between the two. He has 551 to Crosby’s 368. Last season, the Capitals captain became the fifth-fastest player to score 500 goals. His consistency is due to his durability as he has only missed more than four games in a season only once, and never more than 10 games.
At the end of their rookie campaigns, it was Ovechkin who went on to win the Calder Trophy. Following that, he went on to win the Art Ross as the League’s top point scorer (2008), six Rocket Richard trophies as the League’s goal-scoring champion (2008, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) and three Hart Trophies as the League MVP (2008, 2009, 2013).
Crosby has won the Art Ross twice (2007,2014) , the Ted Lindsay Award three times (2007, 2013, 2014), the Hart Trophy twice (2007, 2014), the Rocket Richard (2010) and Conn Smythe Trophy (2016).
Crosby leads the NHL with 296 multi-point games, 117 three-point games, and 30 four-point games.
With two Stanley Cups to his name, Crosby’s accolades are much stronger. Crosby exploded for 120 points as a 19-year old sophomore during the 2006-2007 season. He is the youngest MVP in history, and the youngest scoring champion in major pro sports history.
While Crosby and Ovechkin kept on dominating in their early years, injuries are another difference between the two. Ovechkin has never been badly injured, yet, Crosby had concussion problems. In some of Crosby’s darkest moments between 2011 and 2012, he questioned whether or not he would ever play again. In consecutive games, during the 2011 Winter Classic against the Washington Capitals and January 5th against the Tampa Bay Lighting, Crosby suffered hits to his head from David Steckel and Victor Hedman. After experiencing concussion symptoms, Crosby did not return for the rest of the season while he missed the first 20 games of the 2011-2012 season.
On the international level, Crosby defeated Ovechkin at the 2010 Olympic Games as Canada knocked Russia out of the tournament in the quarter-finals which resulted in another one-sided victory for Crosby and Canada. Crosby would go on to score the “Golden Goal” in overtime to win the gold medal on home ice against the United States. His goal is one of the most iconic moments in sports history.
Even though Ovechkin has celebrated the World Championships three times, the Washington Capitals have yet to advance to the Conference Finals with Ovechkin.
Last season was especially difficult for Ovechkin. His Capitals were dominant through the regular season and finished first overall to win the Presidents’ Trophy. After defeating the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round, Ovechkin and Crosby clashed in the post-season for the second time in their careers and for the second time, the Penguins triumphed over the Captials.
About a month later, after Ovechkin and the Russians settled for bronze at home in Moscow at the 2016 World Hockey Championship, Crosby and the Penguins celebrated a Stanley Cup victory with Crosby winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP.
If they retired today, they’re most certainly heading to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Their resumes clearly speak for themselves in so many different ways. Generational players are very rare in the NHL yet alone seeing two of them playing against each other on a regular basis (excluding that one time when they were teammates as this years All-Star game). That’s what is so magnificent about this rivalry. It’ll be cherished for a long time.
In honour of celebrating the League’s centennial year, the NHL have named its top 100 players. Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby joined the Blackhawks‘ championship-winning trio, and Jaromir Jagr as the active players in the top 100.
There will be a time when the debate of Crosby and Ovechkin will soon be finished. Fittingly, as they reach their thirties, fans now have a glimpse of the what future could hold for some new rivalries in the NHL with the likes of Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Auston Matthews and Patrick Laine.