One of the greatest rivalries in hockey is scheduled for Saturday on national television when Sidney Crosby comes face to face once again with old opponent Alex Ovechkin.
The Penguins and the Capitals meet on ABC at 3 p.m. ET, in the 62nd regular season meeting between the two stars. This is the last time the two Metropolitan rivals meet in a regular season, but a playoff likely looms large.
Ovechkin and Crosby were selected with the #1 picks in the 2004 and 2005 NHL Drafts, respectively, but both entered the league at the same time. It made for an instant rivalry with the two being seen as the future faces of the NHL. It also helped their teams play in the same league.
Seventeen years later, the rivalry is still burning. Crosby and Ovechkin remain some of the league’s most elite players, and both the Penguins and the Capitals expect them to be in the post-season that begins next month.
Pittsburgh has won its first contest of the season, but Washington has won the last two games. Both clubs are fighting for a major position in the play-off.
MORE: Sidney Crosby’s season underrated by numbers
Here’s a closer look at where the debate between two of hockey’s greatest players took place.
(All statistics valid as of April 8, 2022)
Sidney Crosby vs. Alexander Ovechkin: head-to-head stats
The two #1 teams played against each other 61 times in their careers during the regular season.
Crosby missed seven games against the Capitals, while Ovey missed twice against the Penguins. Looking at first-hand records, Crosby and Pittsburgh have a clear advantage. Not only did Pittsburgh have 12 more wins against the Capitals, Crosby was the better player by a huge margin.
The Penguins superstar has 24 more points than Ovechkin in head-to-head professional encounters, averaging 1.377 points per game compared to Ovi’s 0.984. While the Capitals star scored another three goals, Crosby provided nearly twice as many assists as Ovechkin. Crosby has come in in those competitions, scoring three goals in games against the Capitals.
|Crosby||face to face||Ovechkin|
|1.377||Points per game||0.984|
|11||Power Play goals||14|
|24||Helps turn on the power||12|
|3||winning game goals||1|
Sidney Crosby vs Alexander Ovechkin: playoff stats
Since Crosby and Ovechkin entered the league, the Penguins and the Capitals have met four times in the playoffs. The two played all but one of those matches. Crosby missed Game 4 of the playoff series in 2017 due to a concussion but returned to Game 5.
The series’ first three games (2009, 2016, 2017) all swung the penguins’ fashion, creating a narrative that Crosby and the pens were Ovechkin’s Achilles heel and the Capitals. To rub it in more, Pittsburgh went on to win the Stanley Cup in all three of those seasons.
However, Washington finally beat Pittsburgh in 2018, defeating Pittsburgh in the second round en route to winning the Stanley Cup.
|Crosby||face to face||Ovechkin|
|0.857||Points per game||0.943|
|5||Power Play goals||3|
|4||Helps turn on the power||9|
|1||winning game goals||2|
Sidney Crosby vs. Alexander Ovechkin: regular season stats
Shifting toward the two’s entire career, she’s pretty neck and neck. Despite the fact that the two combined their points in opposite ways, only four points separated the two greats.
As expected, Ovechkin leads the goals by a large margin. He has scored 261 more goals than his peer, however, Crosby has 257 more assists.
What gives Crosby the advantage is keeping up with Ovechkin even though he’s played fewer than 150 games than him. Crosby has struggled with injuries his entire career — he’s only played a full 82 game season once and 80 at least five times in 17 seasons. As a result, Crosby has a much higher score-per-game, scoring 0.17 points more per game than Ovechkin.
|1.272||Points per game||1.108|
|153||Power Play goals||283|
|355||Helps turn on the power||243|
|76||winning game goals||121|
|52.09%||Match win percentage||34.09%|
Sidney Crosby vs. Alexander Ovechkin: Advanced regular season stats
Let’s cool down a little, shall we?
Advanced stats are becoming a larger part of determining player values. Unfortunately, not all of them have been around throughout Crosby and Ovechkin’s entire careers, so not all of them may be valid.
For example, predicted goals for (xGF) and predicted goals against (xGA) only started tracking in 2014-15, so the stats are only good for the past eight seasons.
However, we can still use Corsi For and Fenwick for percentages, which are tools used to determine how often a team has the disc when that player is on the ice. The PDO is used to find out the team’s shot percentage and provide the percentage when that player is on the ice and sharing points is as valuable as sharing a baseball win, and to determine how much a player’s individual contributions impact the team’s success.
There are a number of similarities in player analytics, but what stands out the most are Ovechkin’s score posts. He’s much higher than Crosby, which is surprising given how close the two points are.
Sidney Crosby vs Alexander Ovechkin: play-off stats
Crosby and Ovechkin both have a lot of experience in the supplement, but the Penguins captain has more points thanks to playing more matches.
Having missed the junior season’s postseason, Crosby and the Penguins have made the playoffs every season since. Crosby participated in every one except for the 2010-11 postseason where he had a concussion. The Penguins’ run-up to the Stanley Cup helped Crosby’s playoff points total, as 77 of Crosby’s 191 playoff points came in cup-winning seasons.
The Capitals did not qualify for post-season in Ovechkin’s first two seasons, but they have been in every season since then, with the exception of 2013-14.
|1.10||Points per game||0.96|
|17||Power Play goals||27|
|54||Helps turn on the power||31|
|9||winning game goals||10|
|51.6%||Match win percentage||71.4%|
Sidney Crosby vs Alexander Ovechkin: advanced playoff stats
The advanced stats for all of these two people’s careers are not tracked and may not be tracked in the post-season. As a result, we’ll only use Corsi For%, Fenwick For%, and PDO, which are as close as you can get in all three categories.
Sidney Crosby vs Alexander Ovechkin: Trophies and Awards
When it comes to hardware, both sides have a lot of prizes in their case.
Each has multiple Hart Awards and Ted Lindsay Awards, as well as having at least one Conn Smythe. Ovechkin has a huge advantage in Rocket Richards, but only Crosby has ever won an Art Ross award. Both have multiple All-Star and NHL First All-Star team selections. Ovechkin defeated Crosby in the 2005-06 Calder Cup as the Rookie of the Year.
But when it comes to the bigger, and ultimately more important, awards, Crosby has won three Stanley Cups versus Ovechkin, as well as owning two Olympic gold medals to none for Ovechkin. It’s hard to argue against championships and that’s something Crosby has the edge on.
|2||Con Smith Awards||1|
|3||Ted Lindsay Awards||3|
|2||Russian Art Awards||0|
|2||Richard’s Rocket Awards||9|
|8||All star picks||12|
|4||NHL First All-Star Teams||8|
|2||Olympic gold medals||0|