Total Pro Sports – When asked what the best personal rivalry in sports is of all time, many would answer Larry Bird vs Magic Johnson. At least that would likely be the majority answer for rivalries in team sports. But for those too young to remember the intrigue of the Celtics vs Lakers match ups in the 80s, they may not have too look too far for a more than satisfying alternative, and the beginning of the 2nd round series in the NHL playoffs between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals is proving just that.
Sidney Crosby of the Pens and Alex Ovechkin of the Caps have been showing some of their ill-hearted feelings for each other throughout the course of the season. After confronting each other in a notable skirmish one game, they had some harsh words directed towards their counterpart during the post-game interviews.
Their dislike became a public thing and echoed throughout the hockey world. Ovechkin had previously come at ends with Crosby’s teammate, Evgeni Malkin, but after they had reconciled at this years All-Star Game, the hatred shifted to Crosby. That storyline became increasingly interesting after the two brightest stars in the NHL were set to battle each other in a second round best-of-seven series. The first game saw each score a goal, but the second game was one to be remembered.
Crosby started the scoring off by banking in a rebound on the powerplay in the first. Ovechkin responded in the second on a quick one-timer that beat Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Crosby answered with another goal on a tight play in front of the net. After the game was tied at 2-2 by a David Steckel goal, Ovechkin scored his second on another wicked one-timer, this time on the powerplay. He quickly followed that with a wicked wrister over the glove of Fleury making it 4-2. Crosby equaled Ovechkin with a hat-trick of his own to close the gap to 4-3 with under a minute left, but that was as close as the Pens would come. The two studs tied in goals, but it was Ovechkin’s Caps who won the game.
Crosby was seen talking to the refs after the Caps 4th goal (Ovie’s 3rd). He was not too pleased with the hat-throwing celebrations of the Caps fans following Ovechkin’s third goal, complaining that once the first wave of hats had come in and were cleaned, another second wave came in that made the delay to lengthy. He felt that there should be some announcement made on the arena speakers asking fans to stop throwing their hats. Some will likely think this is just more whining from Sid.
As for the rivalry. It will continue in Pittsburgh on Wednesday when the two meet again for game 3. This will be an important game, especially for the Pens as they are down 2-0 and need to win in order to give themselves a chance to bettering their performance from last year, which saw them get into the Stanley Cup Finals before losing to the Detroit Red Wings.
It remains anyone’s guess how this rivalry will eventually stack up against Bird vs Magic, but the let the debate begin.