For today’s crop of NHL fans, the name Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard is most often associated with Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin, who has claimed the trophy named after the famed Montreal Canadiens winger six times. But, as has seemingly become routine for Ovechkin as of late, it seems his rival Sidney Crosby may be poised to steal the spotlight.
The Pittsburgh Penguins captain has already snagged the 2017 award by leading the league with 44 goals this season, but that isn’t the reason his name may be more deserving of a spot in conversations of the legendary Richard’s legacy.
That, according to TVA NHL analyst Renaud Lavoie, stems from the way the Penguins captain approaches the game.
“There’s a little bit of the ‘Rocket,’ the way he was playing,” Lavoie said on Thursday, joining The Jeff Blair Show on Sportsnet 590 The FAN. “Always going in, never scared of anything on the ice. This is obviously Maurice Richard, and you have now Sidney Crosby.”
While the two-time scoring champion has come up with plenty of highlight-reel plays during his 12 seasons in the league, his finesse and all-world vision comprise only a small part of the skill set that makes him so dominant.
“When you’re talking to his teammates in Pittsburgh, what they’re going to say about Sidney Crosby is he’s the ultimate grinder,” Lavoie said. “The best grinder that ever played the game.”
The captain’s performance during the Penguins’ second-round win over the Capitals backs up Lavoie’s assessment. Despite suffering a concussion early in the series and taking a beating after returning to the lineup just a few days later, Crosby refused to wilt.
“He’s playing this [grinder] game – it’s a tough game,” Lavoie said. “It’s not easy. He never changed his style, even if he was injured a few times. If he was just floating around a little bit more, can you imagine the number of points or goals he could have?”
Crosby finished the second-round series with seven points through six games, recording at least one point in all but one of those tilts.
For the captain on the other side of the rink, the series simply served as yet another indication of the discrepancy between him and his Pittsburgh counterpart.
“[Ovechkin] is a great player too, but he’s got a different game than Sidney Crosby,” Lavoie said. “And obviously he can’t beat him.”