All this week, Madhouse Enforcer is taking a look at the key matchups to watch for when the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins tangle at Soldier Field as the final stop in the NHL’s Stadium Series on Saturday.
Today’s matchup is Jonathan Toews vs. Sidney Crosby.
It still seems hard to believe that Toews and Crosby have never played against each other in a regular season NHL game, but that is indeed the case as the duo of star Canadian centers prepares to face-off at Soldier Field on Saturday night.
Both players have been key contributors to Team Canada at the past two Olympics, winning the gold medal twice in a row for their home country, but both have found success on NHL ice as well.
Crosby has been one of the league’s leading scorers just about every season he’s been in the league, and is well on his way to winning the Art Ross again this season, with 29 goals and 51 assists so far this season in 59 games. He also won the 2009 Stanley Cup with the Penguins, and is widely regarded as one of the top captains in the league.
As for Toews, he too is one of the most respected players in the league. His ability on both sides of the ice is well recognized, judging by his 2010 Conn Smythe Trophy win as playoff MVP, as well as his 2013 Selke Award for being the league’s top defensive forward. Add to that the two Stanley Cup championships that he has won as the youngest captain in Blackhawks history, and it’s easy to see why so many hockey fans root for Toews to succeed.
Naturally with two players of their caliber, there are many fans who debate which of the two centers they would want on their team. Crosby supporters tend to point to the way he makes his linemates better (Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz have both benefitted from skating with Crosby), as well as his slick passing and nose for the net. Meanwhile, Toews’ team of fans point to his work ethic, his defensive and face-off skills, and the fact that he has stepped up in a big way for the Hawks in winning two titles in four seasons.
All of those arguments are compelling, but which player should come out on top in a debate between the two? In a contest that is really too close to call, we’ll go ahead and risk accusations of homerism by taking Toews. Yes, Crosby is a better scorer and a better passer than Toews, and yes Crosby has won the same number of gold medals as Toews in Olympic play, but the two championships Toews has won, along with his abilities as a defender, both give him just a slight edge in this one.
What do you think Hawks fans? Would you rather have Toews as the Hawks’ captain, or would you rather have Crosby don the “C”?