-- Naturally when it comes to Pittsburgh vs. Washington, the talk turns to Sidney Crosby
vs. Alex Ovechkin
The top two stars in the League have been linked ever since they entered the NHL in 2005, and this year it's likely that they will run 1-2 in the voting for the Hart Trophy conducted by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
It's also possible that they finish 1-2 in the Rocket Richard Trophy race, as well. Entering Wednesday's game at Verizon Center, Ovechkin and Crosby are tied atop the League with 45 goals apiece.
Crosby, though, said Wednesday morning that while he understands the comparisons and the hype around the personal rivalry between him and the Caps' No. 8, nothing Ovechkin does drives him to perform and it's likely the same for Ovechkin.
"I'm not stupid, I don't think this is going to be the last time him and I play each other, the last time we're going to play each other in the Olympics or in the playoffs,"Crosby said. "Early on we have seen each other a lot and have been fortunate to have those things happen, but we're still young and there is a lot of time left. The best time to judge players is after their career and I evaluate myself after every year. By no means do I compare myself to him. I never will. My goals don't change based on what he does and I'm sure it's the same for him. The things that drive us will always be the same no matter who wins."
Crosby and Ovechkin have met head to head 17 times in the regular season since 2005-06 with the Penguins winning 11 times. Crosby has 29 points (11 goals, 18 assists) while Ovechkin has 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists) in those games.
In last season's epic playoff series, won by Pittsburgh in seven games, Ovechkin outdid Crosby by one assist. They each had eight goals, but Ovechkin had six assists while Crosby had five.
Neither player had a point in Canada's 7-3 win over Russia in the Olympics one month ago, but Crosby did score the gold-medal goal in overtime against the United States.
"It's the same with the Lakers and Cavaliers. Two players play against each other and the media say who is better and who deserves to win," Ovechkin said earlier this season. "It's the same in soccer, like when Real (Madrid) and Barcelona play. The top players play against each other and everybody says, 'Wow, this is going to be a sick game' and they can't wait for it. It's the same."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl