Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid show off individual strengths when superstars collide |

Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid show off individual strengths when superstars collide

Jonathan Bombulie
Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid skates against the Minnesota Wild in an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 in St. Paul, Minn.

As the face of the NHL and his heir apparent get set to face off for the sixth time in their careers Wednesday night at PPG Paints Arena, a clear pattern has emerged in the one-on-one battle between Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid.

McDavid (3 goals, 6 assists) has decisively outscored Crosby (2 goals, 1 assist) when they’ve gone head to head, but the Penguins have beaten the Oilers in all five games.

The pattern is all the more notable because of the way it defines the careers of both players to this point.

McDavid, 22, is a two-time defending scoring champ, but he’s only played in 13 career playoff games. Crosby, 31, has three Stanley Cup rings and two Olympic gold medals.

Crosby said he thinks McDavid is going through the natural process of learning how to win.

“He’s learning on the fly and that’s normal,” Crosby said. “That’s what everyone has to do. That’s the expectation that comes with being in his position. He’s doing a great job and he’s continuing to learn. I think it’s something that over time he will go through and learn from. It takes time.”

That’s a big-picture view of McDavid, of course. In the here and now, the Penguins will be facing the game’s most dangerous offensive player in a game they really need to win. They hold a one-point lead on Carolina for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

“I think there’s probably a heightened awareness, especially when he’s on the ice,” Crosby said. “You try to prepare for that, but at this time of the year, we’re focused on getting wins and part of that is preparing for who you are playing against.”

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Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.