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Who’s more valuable, Sidney Crosby or Jaroslav Halak?

Image (1) HalakCrosby-thumb-250x166-10598.jpg for post 1340

I know the majority of you read this headline and either scratched your head in confusion or slammed your keyboard in anger. “How could this even be a debate,” you ask. “They don’t even play the same position and aren’t even on the same team.”

Stay with me on this one.

Headed into tonight’s Game 1 between the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins, I started to think of the keys to victory for each team. Based on first round performance, my thoughts would turn to Sidney Crosby for the Penguins and Jaroslav Halak for the Canadiens. There’s no doubt that each player was instrumental in their semifinals success, but which player is more important to their team at this very moment in this series.

It’s a tough debate, especially considering that they play different positions, figuring which team can least afford their player to stumble.

Despite the incredible numbers put up in Vancouver and Detroit, there’s no doubt in my mind that Crosby was the best player in the first round. When the Penguins looked as if they would continue their inconsistent ways against the Senators, Crosby took over each game and became the leader of his team en route to a convincing series win.

Can the Penguins afford Crosby to stop producing, if for some reason he slows down against the Habs? The Canadiens showed they know how to shut down the best players in the NHL if given the chance. With Crosby, the Penguins also have a number of players capable of stepping up in Evgeni Malkin and Alexei Ponikarovsky (among others), but we’ve seen this season that the Penguins go as Crosby goes.

Obviously, if Halak starts to stumble the Canadiens will falter. The Habs relied on his out of this world goaltending to surprise the Capitals in the first round, but they also proved they have the team defense, shot blocking skills and opportunistic offense to be able to take down the best teams in the NHL. So if Halak is unable to continue his incredible run of stellar play in the past three games, do the Habs even have a chance at winning? The last three games of the series were won based on incredible goaltending, and some great defense.

For me, you’d have to think that the Habs would suffer most if Halak started to fall apart, rather than the Penguins if Crosby fell to earth. I know it’s tough to compare the two, but the Canadiens feed off the play of Halak in goal, and now all eyes are on him to perform. The Penguins know what it takes to win, they’ve been there; if Crosby were to stumble you have to think there are players on that team that know when and how to step it up.

Halak or Crosby, who’s most valuable? You have to go with Halak in this one.