Sidney Crosby or Jonathan Toews. Four years ago, it was easy choice. You’d take Crosby every day of the week. It wasn’t even worth debating. The Pittsburgh Penguins captain was a scoring champion, the MVP, the player that had won a Stanley Cup before his 22nd birthday and who in 2010 had scored the overtime goal to win an Olympic gold medal. Today, the decision is a bit more interesting. If you’re starting a franchise or are explaining hockey to someone who’s never seen the game, who would you say is the better player? Is it Crosby, who led the league in scoring by 17 points this season and is the favourite to win his second Hart Trophy? Or is it Toews, a finalist for the Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward, the better all-around player? Let’s up the ante: who would you take in a playoff pool? The answer to that is obvious today, because Crosby’s Penguins were eliminated in the second round, while Toews’ Blackhawks are in the conference final for the third time in the last five years. Over two rounds, Crosby and Toews were separated by only one point. But while Crosby had one goal and eight assists and was a minus-4 in 14 playoff games, Toews has five goals — four were game-winners — and five assists and is a plus-5 in 12 games. Toews scored the overtime winner to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 series lead against the St. Louis Blues; he broke a 1-1 deadlock in the third period to give Chicago a 3-2 series lead against the Minnesota Wild. He came up big when the team needed him to. And Crosby? He went the first eight games of the post-season without a goal. And with the Penguins nursing a 3-1 series lead against the New York Rangers, he went pointless in the final three losses. This is not meant as a dumping ground for Crosby. He is still one of the best — if the not the best — players in the world. So is Toews and Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Getzlaf, Anze Kopitar, Steven Stamkos and a handful of others.
Is Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby or Chicago Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews the best player in hockey today?
National Post | May 16