Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Crosby Battles to Stay in Calder Race

The latest from the Globe and Mail's Shawna Richer (aka The Crosby Stalker)

Martin Brodeur is one of the most qualified men in the National Hockey League to offer an opinion on who is the season's best rookie: Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin?

By season's end, Mr. Brodeur's New Jersey Devils will have faced the Pittsburgh Penguins eight times and the Washington Capitals four. The goaltender also just came off a weekend of consecutive nights battling each player.

On Friday, he stopped Mr. Ovechkin cold during an overtime shootout and turned back his lone shot during regulation. On Saturday, Mr. Brodeur surrendered two goals to Mr. Crosby, the first coming 42 seconds into the game through a sliver-sized opening in the goaltender's pads.

Mr. Crosby and Mr. Ovechkin each have fewer than 20 games remaining as the race for the league's rookie-of-the-year award, the Calder Trophy, heats up, providing passionate bar-stool debate among even casual fans.

Who is better? The gritty, 18-year-old Canadian playmaker who has put even his most offensively challenged teammates on the scoresheet with jaw-dropping passes, or the Russian sniper two years his senior who moves like a freight train and doesn't seem to need anyone's help?
When comparing the two kids, people quickly forget, or don't even realize, that Ovechkin is older than Crosby. When you are that young, 1 or 2 years can make a huge difference in terms of skill and just pure body function. Who knows if Crosby will suddenly just become a lot stronger and more physically mature in the next 2 years. Maybe so, maybe not. If Ovechkin were Crosby's age, would he be able to do the things he is now?

Since we can't really predict such a thing, it's up to Crosby to do his best NOW and hope that the writers can forget about Ovechkin's 1,000 highlight reel won't happen, but it's no knock on Crosby to be the '2nd fiddle' right now.

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