Crosby vs. Ovie: Whos better?

Both Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin have 571 career regular-season points. (QMI Agency Files)

Both Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin have 571 career regular-season points. (QMI Agency Files)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:30 AM ET

Going into the Winter Classic on New Year's Day, weather permitting, both Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin have 571 career regular-season points.

That's how close the careers have been for Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins star drafted first overall in 2005, and Ovechkin, Washington's star No.-1 pick from the 2004 draft, since they hit the NHL in the 2005-06 season.

Look it up. Ovechkin, who is nearly two years older than Crosby, has played 435 games and collected 283 goals and 288 assists.

Crosby has skated in 410 games and netted 215 goals and 356 assists.

Still, is there a debate who you'd rather build a team around right now?

For all his dynamic goals and exuberance on the ice, Ovechkin has fallen behind his rival for the distinction of being the best player in the game.

Ovechkin is still an incredible talent, capable of changing a game with a couple of wrist shots -- even if he surprisingly has just 14 goals this season.

By comparison, Crosby leads the NHL with 32 goals and 65 points, even if his point-scoring streak ended at 25 games this week.

But the debate swings more in Crosby's favour when you see how they've changed their games over the past few years.

One theory is that Ovechkin is passing the puck more often, but it's not like his assist total, or plus-minus, is any better than recent seasons.

But that's appears to be the extent of any changes to his game. He still fires shots from anywhere and everywhere, and that's pretty much it. Ovechkin has so much talent and relies on what he's been given.

Meanwhile, Crosby always seems to be improving his game in some way. In the past couple of years, he's made an effort to shoot more often, thus the 51-goal total last season and 67-goal pace he's on this year.

But he also spends time working on details, such as winning faceoffs and passing plays.

Those things have taken him from being a superstar to being the best.

Flaming C-notes

For all those who believe the Flames should be looking to trade Jarome Iginla, consider the thoughts of a veteran player in that regard. Asked about the message it would send around the league -- and pending free agents -- the reply was it has to be a situation where Iginla figures it's best for him and not feel he was pushed out. "If I'm a free-agent and see they forced out Jarome, I'd be wondering what they'd do to me." ... With the teams looking for help on the blueline, the trade which sent Ian White to Carolina sure does seem premature. Couldn't now-departed GM Darryl Sutter have drummed up a bidding war and reel in a draft pick or prospect? ... One name bound to attract attention at the deadline if the Flames can't climb back into the playoff picture would be Robyn Regehr. Regehr has two more seasons after this at US$4.02 million per season, and would be really attractive to a few squads, such as San Jose and Washington ... Want a story about the hearts of players? Just before Christmas, Matt Stajan, who is the Flames ambassador for the Alberta Children's Hospital, brought Christmas presents to a youngster he met during the Hockey Fight's Cancer.

Hockey talky

Let's see: The Detroit Red Wings are without Pavel Datsyuk, Mike Modano and Dan Cleary and still keep winning. Amaziing ... Is Dustin Boyd the perfect example of a player too good for the minors but can't cut it in the NHL? The former Flames winger, now skating for AHL Hamilton having been sent down by the Montreal Canadiens, scored nine goals in his first six games for the Bulldogs ... If the Dallas Stars do indeed have their financial situation in hand to negotiate a new deal with pending free agent Brad Richards, the off-season may have become a lot less interesting. Maybe even tougher for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who truly need a No.-1 centre and would have to be all over the chance to sign Richards ... More short-term pain for long-term gain for the Edmonton Oilers with the loss of defenceman Ryan Whitney for possibly the season due to an ankle injury. Not that the Oilers would have likely climbed into a playoff spot, or even higher than last in the Western Conference with Whitney, but his injury could mean falling a rung or two down and garnering a higher pick in the 2011 draft. If the Oilers drum up another blue-chip blueliner, they could be something to behold in a few years ... You can't help but wish everybody who represented the game of hockey would do it with the determination and grace of Jaden Schwartz.

You don't say

"Crosby point streak over. No more hockey highlights on Sportscenter. Sigh."

-- Tweet by ESPN's John Buccigross, one of too few hockey fans with the network

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/RandySportak


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