As it’s a new year, and there’s so much to look forward to in the NHL’s second half, I thought I’d have some fun with this post! It’s always interesting to compare like for like, or see how you’re doing up against the best in your field!
Hockey is no different in that philosophy. Guys look at the standings and statistics and see how former team-mates or teams are doing. They look at rivals and see how they’re performing. It’s what makes stats interesting and fun! No one can deny that when Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux were lighting it up back in the day, it made the NHL fun to follow.
Same for a healthy Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin going head-to-head for scoring titles a few years ago. Pick a decade and I’m sure you have memories of a favourite player and his rival. Along that same thought process, there can also be strange horses in a race!
Michael Ryder is a favourite of mine as a fellow Newfoundlander. And everyone loves watching Alex Ovechkin when he’s going good. These guys are not rivals! But it sure is fun to have a look at the little personal race I’m enjoying at the moment between these two totally different players.
Ryder and Ovechkin are tied as I write this with 17 goals each. I’m not saying that Ryder is in Ovie’s class because of this fact. I’m just saying it’s interesting to see how the two are playing at the moment – and how I’ll follow this neat sidebar as 2012 continues.
Ryder’s career stats are pretty good for a guy who was drafted 216th overall in the eighth round of the 1998 draft. He’s played 587 games, and registered 363 points (179 G, 184 A). On the other end of the scale is Alex ‘The Great’! Ovechkin was the first overall pick in the 2004 entry draft. His career numbers are superior – 513 games played, 647 points – with a remarkable 318 goals.
So there is no comparison between Ryder and Ovechkin, right? Overall there is no competition – but that’s the point. At this time in the season, Michael Ryder is right there with Ovechkin. It’s what makes sports great – a guy can be playing out of his skin and running neck-and-neck with an athlete who is considered out of his league.
I spoke with Michael Ryder in Boston during the Stanley Cup Final last year. He was relaxed and easy to talk to. He was even happy to speak with a fellow Newfoundlander, and told me “it’s nice to talk to someone from back home.”
The thing that I really remember about that encounter was the fact that Ryder told me he’d do anything to win a championship, “to be here playing for the Stanley Cup is a dream come true,” he said, “I’ll do anything to win this and be able to look back without any regrets.”
Maybe that’s the only category Ryder can look at overall and say he’s ahead of Ovie – championships. At the end of the day, Ovechkin may even trade the lofty personal numbers for that Stanley Cup ring that the Bonavista born Ryder has on his finger – as a result of the Bruins win last season.
In any event – there’s two snipers that I’ll be keeping my eye on for the rest of the campaign. Who knows – maybe Ryder will score more goals than Ovechkin, but maybe the Capitals will win a Stanley Cup – stranger things have happened in hockey!
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