Magic or Bird? Elvis or the Beatles? Ovechkin or Crosby?

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elvisimpersonators.jpgOver the last few years, I’ve tried to find a great comparison for the Sidney Crosby-Alex Ovechkin rivalry.

For quite some time I went to basketball and flip-flopped between Kobe-Lebron and Magic-Bird (personally, I prefer Magic-Bird since both players came in the league at the same time, although Russia doesn’t exactly equate to French Lick, Indiana does it?). You could look back to the old days of Chamberlain vs. Russell or even go way off the map and compare the two players to professional wrestlers which, naturally, I did once before.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. “The Hitman” Bret Hart: Not a bad parallel to the Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby rivalry when you think about it. Austin/Ovechkin appeal to the simple fan with brashness and aggressiveness; Hart/Crosby are vaguely whiny, undeniably talented Canadians. Crosby might even have a disturbing obsession with baby oil and strange sunglasses for all we know.

Really, though, my favorite analogy comes from Uma Thurman’s “Elvis vs. the Beatles” discussion from “Pulp Fiction.” Just substitute “Beatles” and “Elvis” with “Crosby” and “Ovechkin” and then run through Thurman(aka Mia Vincent)’s dialog and see how it relates to the way people feel about the two stars. (Warning: there might be a little paraphrasing in there, in case people want to yell at me for missing the occasional conjunction.)

Mia Vincent: ” … For instance, there’s only two kinds of people in the world: [Crosby] people and [Ovechkin] people. Now [Crosby] people can like [Ovechkin] and [Ovechkin] people can like [Crosby], but nobody likes them both equally. Somewhere, you have to make a choice and that choice tells you who you are.”

Jump for more Crosby-Ovechkin talk and a chance to vote to declare yourself an Elvis (Ovechkin) or Beatles (Crosby) person …


birdmagic.jpgThe other day, I was discussing the Crosby-Ovechkin feud with a few guys from Defending Big D and I made this point: my feeling is that if you stripped Crosby’s last name from his jersey or did something else to give people the “Pepsi Challenge,” hockey nerds would adore Sid. His game (when you boil down to its core elements) is subtle and nuanced. Although he’s obviously talented (just watch him skate), he is among the elite because of his hockey intelligence. Crosby is among the most driven athletes in all of sports. Just look at the way his faceoff numbers have improved from his abysmal 45.5 percent rookie rate to the league’s tenth best percentage of 56.2 percent.

Ovechkin, on the other hand, is a superhuman (almost video game-like) talent. His skills are slap-you-behind-the-ears simple yet equally unstoppable. I’ve never seen a player who can match his ability to release a horrifying shot from anywhere like him; he’s basically a threat to score the second he crosses the blue line. Obviously, he’s not afraid to clobber an opposing player, either.

So, with tonight’s clash between the Crosby-fueled Penguins and Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals just a few hours away, I cannot help but ask: are you a Crosby person or an Ovechkin person?

Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

Read about that blowout here.

Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.