Pittsburgh Penguins Poll: Crosby and Malkin or Toews and Kane?


The Pittsburgh Penguins have arguably the two best players in the world in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.  But, so far they’ve been to the Stanley Cup Finals twice, with only one championship to show for it.

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In the past, when I heard this question proposed I thought to myself, “are you crazy?”.  There’s no question at all that Crosby and Malkin and superior players to Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. All four are very talented and possess attributes that set them apart from the pack, but how can you compare anyone to 87 and 71?

Well, the more I think about it, maybe the comparison is more valid than I once thought.  Maybe my immediate dismissal of this notion was simply arrogance as a die-hard Pittsburgh Penguins fan. In any case, at this point in time, it’s a question worth trying to answer.

Of course, everyone’s opinion will vary on this topic. But, numbers and accolades don’t lie so let’s start by visiting some career stats.

It goes without saying that Crosby’s dominance from an individual perspective reigns true.  He is the only player on this list that when healthy, is always at or near the top of the NHL scoring list.  Another important note is that Crosby and Malkin both get the reputation of disappearing in the playoffs, but yet they boast a much better points-per-game than both Toews and Kane.  In fact, both Crosby and Malkin fall within the top fifteen of all time in that regard.

This is where Stanley Cup’s come into the conversation.  The aforementioned criticism of Sid and Geno mostly comes from the high expectations that the Pittsburgh Penguins have each year, but have only won one championship.  They’ve also suffered early post-season eliminations from inferior teams quite often, so when your biggest names aren’t scoring it stands out front and center.

While Toews and Kane may not light the lamp at the same pace, they have two championships and have been in the conference finals in five of the last seven season.

Scoring droughts happen to everyone, including the stars.  Steven Stamkos‘ 2015 playoff’s are a perfect example of this, and so was Jonathan Toews’ playoff run last year.  For me, the glaring difference in playoff scoring between these players stands out more than anything. You can’t tell me that players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin pull disappearing acts when they’ve clearly outscored those that are considered playoff performers.

I’m not going to discuss individual trophies such as the Hart, Art Ross, etc.  Those types of awards will fall right in line with their career stats, and some of them can be pretty subjective and disputed.  As far as the Conn Smythe for playoff MVP, the same can be said, and Crosby is the only one on this list that doesn’t have one.

For me, there’s no question that I’d still prefer Crosby and Malkin over Toews and Kane. You can’t tell me that subjective intangibles such as leadership qualities or mindset can entertain more than pure skill and talent. The supporting casts that these individuals have been surrounded with is another story.  I’d swap those in an instant.

What are your thoughts? If you’re starting an NHL franchise and you have the option of taking one of these two combinations, who do you pick?

Next: Offseason Grades: Sidney Crosby's 2014-15 Campaign

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