In many ways, the Edmonton Oilers and Pittsburgh Penguins are probably the most influential and best teams of the past 35 years. They’ve combined to win 10 Stanley Cups — five a piece with Edmonton’s coming from 1984 - 1990 and then the Pens winning theirs’ from 1991 to 2017. In the old days you had Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier compared to Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, among so many other hall of fame and all-time greats.
Nowadays, it’s all about Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby - and for good reason. Their skill and dominance has made them the focal points of the league now. McDavid already has matched Crosby in career Art Ross trophies (for leading the league in scoring in a season) with two, but trails him a bit through 300 career games:
Connor McDavid is among hockey’s greatest names as he is set to play his 300th NHL game tonight! pic.twitter.com/oydDJVhR6M— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) October 29, 2019
Crosby, 32, knows McDavid, 22 is on his heels for the objective “best player in the game” title and we all probably know that eventually time will move along the natural order of things and youth will overcome the veteran. Father Time remains undefeated.
However, Pens/Oilers is an important game because there are fireworks. Don’t think for a second Crosby doesn’t have the pride and a healthy ego to show he is still the man. And as Ric Flair taught us — to be the man, ya gotta beat the man. Crosby wouldn’t let McDavid beat him, almost willing this puck in during overtime last year (with McDavid on the ice, no less).
The other reason this game feels special is even though an NHL season is 82 long games every year, Eastern and Western teams only play once a season. If you live in Pittsburgh or somewhere close, you’re only going to get one chance a year to see Connor McDavid with your own eyes just once a season. And, other than Crosby, there’s no player who single-handedly is worth seeing as much as McDavid. Getting the two in the same game is still a rare treat that means something.
There’s also fire power beyond the big two. Former Penguin James Neal has had a career renaissance in Edmonton, scoring 10 goals in 13 games to start his season. Leon Draisatil is a worthy running buddy, putting up 22 points so far in 13 games, as many as McDavid does this season.
Crosby is a little behind McDavid’s pace this year with 17 points (5 goals + 12 assists) in 13 games. Hopefully he’s reminded. That’s how you get the fireworks. Evgeni Malkin should be playing for the first time in almost a month. Kris Letang is scoring at a point per game rate from the defense. Matt Murray has given up just one goal in the last two games, the Pens’ bright stars are shining this year too.
Pens/Oilers will be a great watch and if you want to go see it with your own eyes, you should check out StubHub and you can find the latest and greatest prices here.
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