When something in sports is hyped as much as this series, it usually does not live up to it. Through the first two games, Crosby and Ovechkin have stepped up to the plate and delivered for their respective teams. This may in fact go down as the best playoff series of all-time.
Game 1 was played last Saturday on NBC in front of a sold out Verizon Center in Washington with Caps fans "rocking the red" wearing red shirts. It did not take long as Crosby struck first scoring just 4 minutes into the game. The Caps would respond with a goal of their own by David Steckel and then followed it up with a tallie by Ovechkin. The Caps ended up winning the game 3-2, but the individual score was Crosby-1 Ovechkin-1.
Game 2 tonight was a game that will go down in Stanley Cup Playoff history. It will be called the "Crosby/Ovechkin Show." The Caps won the game 4-3, but the remarkable thing was that Crosby and Ovechkin combined to score 6 of the 7 goals. Each tallied a hat trick, with the Caps getting one other by David Steckel. Ovechkin had a highlight reel goal for his third, just to have Crosby follow it up with a highlight reel goal of his own with under a minute to play in the third period.
Being overlooked in this series is the goaltending. The average age of the goalies starting for their respective teams is 23. Simeon Varlamov recently turned 21 years old and only started six NHL games in his career before the playoffs. He came in relief in Washington's first round series and led them over the Rangers in 7 games. Since, he leads all playoff goalies with a 1.51 GAA and is second with a .945 save percentage while picking up 2 shutouts along the way. In Game 1, he robbed Sidney Crosby on what might go down as the "save of the playoffs" by stopping the shot with just his stick as Crosby had a wide open net to shoot at. In the other net is Marc-Andre Fleury, the 24-year-old Penguins netminder. Fleury has been unbeatable at points in the playoffs, but has also been exposed at times. The key here is that even though all the hype is around Crosby and Ovechkin, the series can be won by spectacular goaltending by Varlamov and Fleury.
Even though the Caps are up 2-0 in the series, it now shifts back to Pittsburgh where the Penguins are not just going to roll over. Games 3 and 4 will be played Wednesday and Friday nights at the Igloo in Pittsburgh. Game 5, if necessary, is back in Washington Saturday night. Game 6 and 7, if necessary, will be played in Pittsburgh and Washington respectively on Monday 5/11 and Wednesday 5/13. Unfortunately all remaining games in the series will be shown on Versus Network. Only Game 1 was shown on NBC. It is just typical of the NHL that they would have the ideal series of Crosby/Ovechkin and only have one game on NBC. For those of us with Versus, we are being treated to something special, and hopefully it will continue throughout the rest of the series.
Many hockey fans in Philadelphia may not like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. Say what you want about both of them, they are the best two players in the NHL today. Both players are carrying their teams right now. There is no denying it. Flyers' fans do not have to cheer for either player, but after watching what these two superstars are doing in this series, fans of the orange and black should at least have respect for them. They are the current faces of the NHL.