Sidney Crosby returned to the NHL last night and scored 2 goals and 4 points after missing nearly a year of action.
There is no question that Crosby is the best player in the NHL, and last night was just another piece of evidence. There are definitely other tremendous players in the NHL, but none have the three-zone dominance of Crosby.
After the last two seasons, I find it almost comical to think that people could still believe that Alex Ovechkin is the world’s best player. Ovechkin’s numbers have been down the last two years, but that’s not why he doesn’t match up to Crosby. Ovechkin is only the best player on his team when he allows one of his teammates to get him the puck in the offensive zone. He is in fact one of the worst players on his team in his own end because he is terrible defensively. There are a number of players I would rather have on my team than Ovechkin. Two of the easiest to name are Pavel Datsyuk and Martin St. Louis.
Datsyuk has great vision and is surprisingly strong on the puck. He is a magician with the biscuit in the opponents end and one of the best defensive centermen in the game today. Pavel won the Selke trophy, given to the league’s best defensive-forward, in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Datsyuk plays a three-zone game just like Crosby, but with less explosive power.
Martin St. Louis is another player who is equally strong in each zone. He has scored 80 or more points in each of the last five NHL seasons including 2007-2008 when his Lightning team put up the league’s worst record. He is the main reason Steven Stamkos is the scorer that he is and I am willing to bet Steven would agree with me. It has always been said that your best players should be your hardest workers and that is definitely the case for St. Louis. He is a heart and soul player and a leader on his team.
The bottom line is Sidney Crosby is the best hockey player in the world and will be for as long as he plays. Truly great players must be devoted to excellence in all three zones, for the whole shift, every shift. That is the case with Crosby as well as with Datsyuk and St. Louis. Until Ovechkin figures this out, he and his team will continue their losing ways.