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Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid finally face off with ‘generational’ hype

Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid finally face off with ‘generational’ hype

The two most recent generational NHL ‘next ones’ never faced off against one another last season.

Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid suffered a fractured clavicle on Nov. 3, 2015, one game before he was set to go against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby. The injury kept McDavid out until February, and by then, the Oilers and Penguins had no games left against one another, which meant Crosby and McDavid had to wait until this season to play each other for the first time.

That game will be played Tuesday evening at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh between McDavid, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, and Crosby, the top pick in the 2005 NHL Draft.

“I think once you get out there, I think that’s the best part,” Crosby said. “I think the competitive side kind of takes over. There’s matchups every night like that. I mean, some aren’t talked about as much as others, but there’s some that, personally, you feel like are a bit more of a matchup than people think, just because of history or what you expect against certain guys.”

A story by pointed to a picture that was snapped in Pittsburgh on Feb. 10, 2013, when McDavid was in his first year of major junior with the Erie Otters. The photo was of McDavid, Crosby and former Penguins player and now owner Mario Lemieux. Hockey is a sport that tends to create buzz around certain players as they enter the league, and McDavid, Crosby and Lemieux represent three guys who had major expectations before they played an NHL game. Lemieux and Crosby both delivered on their promise while McDavid is in the process of doing so.

“They’re generational players,” Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson was quoted in the piece by ESPN. “They’re different players. Not too often do players like this come along.”

Crosby – who in the last year has won a Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy, the World Cup and World Cup MVP – is currently at the height of his powers, while McDavid has led the Oilers to a surprising start in his first year as team captain.

After missing the start of the year with a concussion, Crosby has 10 points in six games played, including eight goals. The Oilers have missed the playoffs 10 straight years, but are leading the Pacific Division at 9-3-1 and McDavid is tied for fourth in NHL scoring with 14 points in 13 games played.

“It’s exciting, I didn’t get a chance to (play Crosby), last year,” McDavid said. “I didn’t get a chance to play him at the World Cup. So it’s exciting for me. He’s someone I grew up idolizing. For me, it’s going to be pretty cool.”

Even though both players are often compared to one another, both have different skill sets. Crosby plays the game at a cerebral level. He anticipates how a play will unfold and then figures out the best way to exploit holes in the defense.

McDavid’s ability to generate offensive plays at top speed mostly sets him apart.

“I think just, his speed stands out the most,” Crosby said. “I think that allows him to do so many other things, but he sees the ice really well. He’s strong on the puck. I think just his hockey sense and his speed are probably the biggest things that (stand out), I think.”

What makes them most similar is how they’re selfless and put team goals above themselves. It’s a unique superstar quality, which has lent to success between the two players.

“There’s going to be an awful lot made of it,” Oilers coach Todd McLellan said of the matchup. “But as well I know Sid and as well as I know Connor, they’re going to make it about their teams and we’re going to make it about the teams because it’s going to take 20 (to win).”

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!


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