Some teams in the NHL will be rivals with one another no matter what. Some of them are rivals because of geography, some are because of playoff history, and others derive from player rivalries.
The latter of the three reasons is the case when it comes to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals. They were medium rivals back in the day but they are firmly rivals right now because of the connection between Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.
Ovechkin was the first overall pick in the 2004 NHL Draft. Crosby was the first overall pick in the 2005 NHL Draft. Ever since they entered the league at roughly the same time, they have been connected.
It helps that both teams were put into the Metropolitan Division during their careers but that isn’t the reason at all. The comparisons between the two are firmly what has driven these matchups for over a decade.
The Sidney Crosby vs Alex Ovechkin era has been incredible for the NHL
In the Crosby/Ovechkin era, these guys have played each other in the playoffs four times. The winner of the series has become the Stanley Cup champion all four times. The stakes have been high between the two.
Sidney Crosby is probably known as the better of the two. He is one of the greatest playmakers in the history of the league but he has also had no problems scoring goals either. He enters play on Tuesday with 570 goals, 968 assists, and 1538 points.
Crosby is also having a banner season right now. He is on pace to have the greatest age-36 season of all time. He has scored 20 goals and 16 assists for 36 points in 35 games.
As for Ovechkin, his playmaking is a bit underrated because of how insane his goal-scoring has been. In his career, Ovechkin has scored 829 goals and 677 assists for 1506 points. He is 66 goals away from the all-time goal-scoring record. At 38 years old, he has a chance to do it.
He hasn’t been his typical self this season as he only has 7 goals and 14 assists for 21 points in 34 games played. Still, he has been much better since breaking out of the slump and is incredibly dangerous.
It would be fun to see these two have some added motivation coming into this game. Both of them know how important this matchup has been in the past. Each team also needs the points badly as they try to become playoff teams again after both missing in 2022-23.
There was way more bad blood back in the day as it seems like they are friends at this point. No matter what though, they are competitors once the puck drops. This should be great.