Everyone knows who the top two players in the league are, right? Obviously, Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby are the top players, in whatever order. I am writing this to prove that statement is false. Sure, these guys are premier players but they are far too overrated.
Let's talk about Alex Ovechkin first. Ovechkin does lead the league in goals, with 44. He is second in points, only behind the Penguins Evgeni Malkin. Ovechkin is a dirty player who throws cheap shots with surprising regularity. I agree with Sid the Kid when I say the Ovechkin goes into the boards with the intention to injure. He leaves his feet on most every check but the refs would never call charging on Alex "the Great".
Earlier in the week, I heard the Flyers play-by-play man Jim Jackson say the Ovechkin has shot the puck 100 more times than any other player in the NHL. That got me thinking. Well, first I thought that Ovechkin must hog the puck so much that his teammates can't stand it. Then I thought: "How much percent of those shots actually cross the goal line." So I calculated the answer at 11%. Let me compare him to several other prominent players. Mike Richards scoring percentage is 14%. Crosby's is 13%. The second leading goal scorer, Jeff Carter, is at 14%.
You may think that three or four percent difference is nothing. But when you're talking about hundreds of shots, it makes a big difference. As you can see, Ovechkin is not as efficient as other top-tier players, even though he has scored eight more goals than anyone in the NHL. Maybe Ovechkin should look for an open teammate instead of shooting every time he gets the puck.
Sidney Crosby is much more of a playmaker than Alex. He also yaps a lot more than Ovechkin (to put it politely). Crosby is always complaining to the referees about every little thing. He craves the attention. I don't even believe he is the best player on his own team. Evgeni Malkin plays more physical than Crosby, and he is much better at controlling the puck.
One player who I believe means more to his team than either of these guys is Mike Richards. Richards is a guy who doesn't always get mentioned as one of the best players. He is the captain of the Flyers, and his leadership abilities on the ice are evident. He is a good body checker but he does it cleanly (not cowardly, like Ovechkin). He will talk but only when it is appropriate. Richards will make any play he has to to win the game. He will just as easily score a goal as he will set up a teammate. He, alone, creates so many scoring chances for his team. He will also stand up for his teammates and himself when the time comes. He is the real star.