It is a long season, full of visits by the Arizonas, Carolinas and New Jerseys of the world—teams that might not move the needle of a Canadian hockey fan as much as the Washingtons and Torontos might.
Every once in a while, however, a game comes along like the one Friday night in Edmonton. A frosty Friday night in Alberta and a packed house in a reborn hockey town; Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby and a frenetic, wildly entertaining game that had to be settled by a shootout.
The kind of game that makes you forget how much the tickets cost, or how cold the car was when you fired it up post-game. It ended in a 3-2 Penguins win, but despite dropping the point it was likely the most entertaining game of Edmonton’s home season thus far.
"To say it’s a normal game would be lying," admitted McDavid, who took his game to an impossibly high level on a night when he would trade shootout goals with his childhood hero Crosby. "Obviously, he’s someone I’ve looked up to my whole life. To play against him is fun.
"It was probably to my advantage," he added. "It's easier for me to get up to play against him than it his for him to get up to play against me."
This was Pittsburgh’s only visit to Rogers Place all season, and it was as if Crosby was responsible for holding on to his "Best Player in Hockey" mantle, the way a wrestler carries a belt from town to town. And just as Wayne Gretzky used to do when Guy Lafleur or Mike Bossy rolled through the old Northlands Coliseum, McDavid did everything he could to steal Crosby’s title.