Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Odd Man Rush: The Kid And The Caveman

Crosby, OvechkinI know, I know. The Awl's tagline is "Be Less Stupid." And lots of American sports fans consider hockey, with its violent yet legal ice dance-fighting and hard-to-watch helter-skelter play, to be the stupidest sport in the world (I say, what about chessboxing?). Additionally, this is a strange time to start a hockey column, what with the NHL season more than half over. But here we are: you, smart readers and me, stupid hockey fan. Let's start by taking a brief look at the game's top two players.

Both first overall draft picks, Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby and Washington Capitals winger Alexander Ovechkin came into the league the same year, 2005. They're both offensive stars, but play completely different styles. What makes this an interesting discussion is that the two men seriously don't like each other. And if you want to be a true bloodthirsty NHL fan, you can't like them both; you must pick a favorite. There hasn't been a 1-2 player rivalry like this since, oh, probably the one in the 1950s between Detroit Red Wing Gordie Howe and Montreal Canadien Maurice "The Rocket" Richard.

Crosby, aka "Sid The Kid," is Canadian, and the pretty PR face of the league. His Penguins won the Stanley Cup last spring. He is a playmaker and passer extraordinaire. Here's some video of The Kid in action:

However, to many, he is also known as "The Crybaby." Last year, in an ESPN players' poll (scroll down to the 4th question), Crosby was singled out as the biggest on-ice complainer (to referees) by 52% of the respondents. The second leading whiner vote-getter, Philadelphia Flyer defenseman Chris Pronger, was named by only 8% of his fellow skaters. This reputation was not helped last May when in a playoff game against Washington, Crosby complained to the refs about hats being thrown on the ice after a hat trick (three goals) scored by… Ovechkin. For you non-fans, this hat-tossing is an unassailable age-old (somewhat stupid) hockey tradition.

And yet, Crosby is the smartest, savviest player since The Great One, Wayne Gretzky-who also happened to be a whiny crybaby.

Ovechkin (aka the Unfrozen Caveman) is bigger and stronger than Crosby, and is pure skating power and goal-scoring talent. He can score from anywhere inside the other team's zone, even from his ass. He seeks and initiates contact. He gets off shots-on-goal in a blink, even with defensive players draped all over him. His shooting force/accuracy is marvelous. Here are some highlights of the Russian in action:

He has won the last two Hart Trophies as the league's most valuable player (Crosby won in 2007). He even received the key to the city from Washington mayor Adrian Fenty. Others to get keys from Fenty include Nicolas Sarkozy and the Pope. Ovechkin's Capitals are picked by many experts to win the Stanley Cup this spring.

But what does Alex think of The Kid? Well, the two briefly tussled in a game last February. Crosby gave Ovechkin a little baby check from behind. The Russian responded by ever-so-gently removing Crosby's helmet, a move that infuriated the fuck out of Sidney. Ovechkin then mocked Crosby by making chicken wing motions from the bench. Here's a short video of the international incident, a clip that has attracted 1,773 comments as of this writing.

The two teams met in a nationally televised game on Super Bowl Sunday. Crosby scored two goals to vault visiting Pittsburgh into a 4-1 lead. But Ovechkin, completing a hat trick (down came the headgear again), scored two third period goals to tie the game, then assisted on the overtime game winner. (Video highlights here.)

The NHL is in the middle of a two-week break for the Olympics. But Crosby and Ovechkin could be headed for a wonderful showdown in Vancouver: The Canadians and the Russians are favored to meet in the men's hockey gold medal game.

Have you picked a favorite? You've probably guessed whose camp I'm in.

Copyranter is an ad copywriter who blogs about advertising here. Before selling out, he was a sports reporter for several small newspapers, including a daily where he covered the Philadelphia Flyers. He knows his way around a rink, having majored in hockey in college-which led to his graduating with a 2.8 GPA in Communications and a wicked wrist shot.

31 Comments / Post A Comment

BardCollege (#2,307)


personnnnnnnnnn (#1,154)

Still mad at local NBC for denying me the last two minutes of regulation and all of overtime from this years caps-penguins game to cover a press conference about the power plant explosion (which did not actually start until overtime was over).

And go Whalers.

Yes! Copyranter and The Awl! Two of my favorite things in one

narnio (#38)

He's still alive!

maebefunke (#154)


TwoDollars (#2,898)

Does anyone know why both US hockey games this week got non-primetime slots? How am I supposed to watch Ryan Miller make wicked saves at 3:30pm every day?

be less employable?

djfreshie (#875)

Live in a different time zone.

Also…if you're in Canadia, broadcasts every hockey game on their website in solid definition.

if not you may be S.O.L.

I feel absolutely zero sympathy though, since you Yankess refuse to let me watch anything Hulu. Bastards.

TwoDollars (#2,898)

Ahh curses, as a former Buffalonian, there are few things I miss more than CTV being a part of my regular cable channels.
Who needs Hulu when you have Jonovision?

"Hard-to-watch"? It's the best sport to watch live, in-person.

Also, #8.

copyranter (#440)

CF: Yes, I meant TV watching. Every sports fan who dismisses hockey should be forced to go to a game and watch from center ice, 20 rows up, and then tell me the sport is boring.

City_Dater (#2,500)

Mmmmm… Hockey. Soccer on skates! What's not to LOVE?

kid pretentious (#3,538)

Well, the Awl now has everything and that means I have to register a comment account.

And yes, go Whalers.

maebefunke (#154)

Back in '05 I knocked out my left front tooth and had a smile just like Ovechkin's for a year and a half! Although I am decidedly less caveman-like and more female than him. Suck it, Sid!

JGP (#1,686)

Oh, hells yes. If anyone missed the Ovechkin goal (sadly and wrongly disallowed) where he steamrolled Montreal's defensement who had about 4 inches and 30 lbs on him, well, go find it. Search Ovechkin Hall Gill. Then try to make an argument for Crosby.

josh_speed (#97)

BOXING is stupid and violent; ice hockey is poetry.

MichaelBD (#3,115)

I love what the Awl is doing here.

I'm with Ovechkin. He's similar to LeBron James in that he's just unbelievably fast and nimble for a guy his size and power.

Maevemealone (#968)

I'd have to hear Ovechkin talk, until then it's Crosby. He's adorable until he opens his mouth. So yeah, GO PENS!

djfreshie (#875)

Hey hey now.

1) Crosby is better
2) Obviously better
3) Ovechkin doesn't even kill penalties
4) One of the two has a cup ring
5) It's not Ovechkin
6) For anyone who suggests the Caps have a shot at a cup this season strictly because they are ahead of many other teams in the standings, I will cite two facts: (A)last season when the Caps were ahead of many other teams as well, and lost in the 2nd round to Crosby's Penguins because of not playing defense and having no goaltending, and (B) they still play no defense and have acquired absolutely 0 new or improved goalies.
7) No
8) Crosby. Better.

Ovechkin is probably the best individual goal scorer in the league. Potentially ever. But Crosby is the better hockey player, without question. Ovechkin could score 200 goals, and it wouldn't matter because he never backchecks. Crosby can do everything, including pretending being tripped, hooked, interfered with, cut, ghost-punched, and checked-from-behind.

Here's to hoping for a Canada-Russia Finals, sweet fancy mosesjesus.

S.T. VanAirsdale (#3,544)

Did anyone see last night's Finland/China game in the women's tournament? China was outshot 43-5 and lost by a goal — which was basically tipped in by the Chinese forward. And the only Chinese goal came shorthanded, slapped through from about 30 feet out.

All I'm saying is that the Rangers might consider mercury-infused water in the locker room.

beer (#1,073)

We all know why Copyranter digs Ovechkin more… his advertising skills…

copyranter (#440)

Hilarious. Thank you.

En Vague (#82)

Also, OV has a presidential shout out.

Jetpacks (#2,220)

Was it Fox that tied to create a followable puck with the orange trail? That was almost TV watchable, but I guess the purists fought it, even though they admit you can't watch hockey on TV.

KeithTalent (#2,014)

Great bit in this at about 1:20 where ovechkin talsk about having "big party, like in american movie". It's the kind of thing you hope a young russian hockey player would say.

I love the idea of this column.

But leading with Sid v. Ovie is lazy, man.

copyranter (#440)

Sorry, wasn't sure of the audience here. Maybe I should've started with a stick blade analysis of the benefits of a 3/8" curve vs. 1/2" curve?

hockeymom (#143)

Fucking A.
I am working and away from electronics and I miss a HOCKEY POST ON THE AWL.


Also, Ovi. Obvs.

simonlcupcake (#515)

THANK GOD!! More hockey posts, please. Also, go Pens!

Bored (#1,111)

Yet the whiny bitch scored the OT Olympic-winning goal :-)

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