Sid the Kid arrives in Ottawa on fire

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:53 PM ET

There is no debate this time around.

Sidney Crosby is No. 1.

As the Penguins arrive at Scotiabank Place Sunday with the NHL’s two-day Christmas break over, there is no question Crosby has emerged as the top player in the world.

A QMI Agency poll released on Boxing Day confirms the Penguins centre has pulled ahead of Alex Ovechkin this season as the best player and there wouldn’t be an argument in the Ottawa dressing room.

“Right now, there’s no discussion,” said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson.

Crosby arrives here on a 23-game point streak, during which he has 23 goals and 21 assists. For the season, he has a league-leading 60 points — 12 more than Tampa’s Steven Stamkos, who sits second.

And the Penguins are rolling along at an incredible pace, taking 35-of-40 points in their last 20 games to sit first in the NHL with 50 points in 36 games.

“He’s scoring goals at a pretty amazing pace right now,” said centre Jason Spezza. “There’s no surprise that he’s the top guy. He’s always been really good and dominant, but things are going really good for him. When you start rolling, it seems like everything you touch turns into gold and he’s got that going.”

The Senators know they are in tough. They have held Crosby to three goals and 13 assists in 19 career games, but Ottawa has never faced him when he’s on a ridiculous pace like this.

“He’s having a good year and I really just think he’s hitting the prime of his career,” said Senators winger Jarkko Ruutu, a former Pittsburgh teammate of Crosby. “When you see this guy, he works hard every practice and every game. He goes all out. He wants to be better in every situation.

“He just puts so much work into it preparing for the game, it’s no surprise he’s having success. The way he handles himself day-in and day-out is what makes the difference. Not only is he the best player in the game, he’s also the hardest worker. That sets the bar for the other guys when they see that from him.”

Alfredsson isn’t about to write off Ovechkin, saying it’s simply Crosby’s season.

“Not this year, but I wouldn’t rule it out going into the future,” Alfredsson said of Ovechkin being as good as or better than Sid the Kid down the road. “(Crosby’s) really gifted knowing where to be on the ice and when to be there.

“Some of the goals he’s scoring are just being in the right place at the right time, to tip it in or get open at the right spot. The biggest thing I’ve seen is he’s improved his shot. He’s quicker and more accurate.”

Spezza spent time with Crosby in the summer and has seen the work ethic first-hand.

“He works really hard and he’s been doing it for a really long time,” said Spezza. “That’s the thing about him: He works for everything that he gets. He’s playing pretty good right now. That’s for sure.”

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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