It has long been assumed that the Pittsburgh Penguins 1-2 combination of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are, and will continue to be in the near future, the NHL’s best duo.
While maybe that’s true, another 1-2 punch may have something to say about that, more specifically the Chicago Blackhawks duo of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
Judging by what we have seen over the course of the past four years, especially this season, it’s hard to argue against the fact that Kane and Toews have indeed eclipsed Crosby and Malkin as the NHL’s top duo.
That’s not a knock on the Penguins two stars; I think it just speaks volumes to what Kane and Toews have accomplished together.
There’s no doubting the fact that Crosby and Malkin are likely the NHL’s two best individual players. But the bottom line is they haven’t gotten it done when it counts and Kane and Toews have.
When the Pens were eliminated by the Boston Bruins, several excuses were made.
Sure the defense, goaltending and coaching all played a factor in the Penguins being swept by the B’s, but so did the fact that the teams two best players were shut down for an entire series. That is something that quite frankly can’t happen.
On the other hand, when the Blackhawks needed their stars to step up the most, against the same Bruins team, Kane and Toews responded by combining for 10 points in the Stanley Cup Finals, against the same team that held Crosby and Malkin without a point.
However, the most impressive part is the fact that eight of those 10 points came in the final three games as the Blackhawks erased a 2-1 series deficit. Superstars step up when it matters the most and Kane and Toews certainly did that.
Then there’s the regular season.
Crosby and Malkin have been known for dominating the regular season, but this year the Blackhawks duo outproduced them in terms of points (103-89). Sure both Crosby and Malkin missed time due to injury but it still reinforces the fact that Kane and Toews are equally as effective. Over the course of the past four regular seasons, Kane and Toews have combined to outscore Crosby and Malkin 531-524.
Crosby and Malkin have both missed time during those seasons to injuries, but the numbers demonstrate that not only are Kane and Toews productive, but for the most part they are also durable.
Individually Crosby and Malkin have been more productive during the past four postseasons, outscoring the Chicago duo 144-108, but what has it gotten them? At the end of the day, as it is in any sport, the great ones are judged by winning and only one of the two duos have had success lately doing that.
With two Stanley Cups in a four year span, compared to Crosby and Malkin’s one, you have to give a slight edge to Kane and Toews right now.
Of course that can change if the Pens come out and win a championship next year. But if Kane and Toews win a third cup in a five year span next year, they will cement their legacy. That makes them the closest thing the NHL has seen to a dynasty in a very long time. Especially in the salary-cap era, where things like that rarely happen.
Really there’s no debate that as a duo, Kane and Toews are at the top of the pecking order right now. We will see if Crosby and Malkin can reclaim that title next season.