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Insider Only Crosby vs Ovechkin Part II: Can it live up to 2009?


Monday Buzz Column

It just doesn’t get any better than this.

The Penguins vs the Capitals. Crosby vs Ovechkin. Playoffs. Maybe you were rooting for the Flyers because you thought playing them would make it much easier for the Penguins to advance to the Easter Conference Final.

I’ve been rooting for a Penguins-Capitals matchup since February and I would have been perfectly okay with seeing them play each other in the first round.

I don’t get my name on the Stanley Cup if the Penguins win and I’m pretty sure I won’t be getting a check, so, for me it’s all about the entertainment.

What sports fan wouldn’t want to see Sidney Crosby go head to head with Alexander Ovechkin?

Do you remember what happened last time? In Game 2 back in 2009? They both had hat tricks and the Penguins lost 4-3.

That’s called living up to the hype.

Ovechkin finished with 14 points, which was the highest total for a seven game series since 1995. Crosby had 13.

And, yeah, it went seven games.

The Penguins were down two games to none and went 11 minutes into overtime before winning Game 3 on a goal by Kris Letang.

That’s how close the Penguins came to not winning the Stanley Cup. If the Capitals had scored in that overtime and gone up three games to none, the Penguins would have been done.

The Penguins won Game 5, 4-3 in in overtime to go up in the series three games to two.

Of course, the Capitals won Game 6 and that one also went to overtime.

It was a spectacularly exciting series that couldn’t have done a better job of living up to the billing if it had been scripted.

And who can forget Marc Andre Fleury’s save on Ovechkin’s breakaway in the first period of Game 7? If he scores there, the game might have gone in a completely different direction.

The Penguins scored the first four goals and went on to win 6-2.

That series was a great lesson in just how tough it is to win the Stanley Cup.

You may have noticed that the Penguins haven’t won one since.

The Penguins swept the Carolina Hurricanes in the Conference Final and then had to go seven more with the Red Wings, which meant, as great as that series with the Capitals was, hardly anybody was talking about it a week after it ended.

Penguins vs Capitals is what makes the Stanley Cup Playoffs the best tournament in sports. There’s a really good chance that this series will be every bit as good as the one in 2009 and then there could be two more series for the Penguins.

Back in 2009, every game in the Caps-Penguins series was as exciting and compelling as any Steelers playoff game. And there were seven of them.

As I said, it just doesn’t get any better.

-A Penguins-Blackhawks Stanley Cup Final is the best thing that could happen to the NHL. Both teams play in great hockey markets and there would be plenty of star power. Superstar power, actually.


–As I write this, there is a possibility that Penguins-Caps Game 1 could be going up against the NFL Draft Thursday night. The NHL is waiting for the first round games to be completed before announcing the schedule for Round 2.

Regardless,there will be a lot less attention paid to the Steelers draft picks this year. That’s not so say that this year’s draft isn’t important. They all are and the Steelers should focus on their pass defense this time around. No AFC team gave up more passing yards last season.

I always try to remember what former Steelers GM Tom Donahoe used to say to the media (and everybody else.) “You guys focus way too much on the number one pick.”

How excited were you back in 2010 when the Steelers took a wide receiver out of Central Michigan with their second pick in the 6th round named Antonio Brown?

Think the Ravens would rather have Brown, who was the 195th pick, than the guy they took at 194 –Ramon Harewood, offensive tackle from Morehouse State?

Think the Browns wish they had taken Brown with the 177th pick instead of the wide receiver they drafted – Carlton Mitchell of South Florida.

Were the Steelers lucky or smart when they took Brown?

I’m leaning toward luck.

So, don’t get too hung up on that first pick by the Steelers Thursday night.

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About The Author

John Steigerwald

TIOPS Columnist

John Steigerwald, a life long Pittsburgher, has been covering PITTSBURGH sports since 1977 as a TV anchor/reporter, columnist radio reporter/commentator and talk show host. He is also the author of one of the best selling local books in Pittburgh history, "Just Watch The Game."

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