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    TORONTO (AP) — Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews? Auston Matthews or Connor McDavid?With debate ramping up about which player sits atop hockey’s throne — after some remarkable early performances — Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock’s goes in a different direction — Sidney Crosby.“This is what I think http://www.bluejacketsshoponline.com/authentic-sergei-bobrovsky-jersey ,” Babcock began as he made his case for the Penguins captain before Pittsburgh’s 3-0 victory over Toronto on Thursday. “I think one guy’s got two Olympic gold medals and three Stanley Cups.”And the other guys?“They don’t.”McDavid, the Edmonton Oilers captain with blazing speed, has won back-to-back NHL scoring titles and the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. Matthews, the Maple Leafs’ deadly sniper, has the most points in the league, 16 in just eight games.McDavid set an NHL record this week by becoming the only player to either score or assist on the first nine goals of his team’s season.Matthews has a lethal shot that often leaves a goalie looking up at the replay for a glimpse at a puck that just whizzed by him. He is just the fifth player to have seven straight multipoint games to start a season.Babcock is quick to acknowledge what these 21-year-old phenoms have done. But he says personal accolades matter only so much.Crosby is 31 and has been on top of the hockey world for the better part of the last decade. He won the Cup in 2009, 2016 and 2017 to go along with gold medals for Canada at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics.Had it not been for the concussions that limited him to 63 of his team’s 164 games between 2010 and 2012, the two-time Hart and Conn Smythe Trophy winner might own even more hardware.Babcock coached Crosby at the Vancouver and Sochi Games, and again at the World Cup of Hockey in 2016, which Canada also won.“Team success in the end, that’s how you’re measured,” he said. “When you’ve been the best player on the best team Womens Seth Jones Jersey , to me that’s totally different than being the best player on a team that’s not as good. As you’ve got people around you to raise your game and set a standard … to me, it’s not even close.”Mike Sullivan became Pittsburgh’s coach during the 2015-16 season and immediately grew to appreciate Crosby’s gifts.“Sid’s the most driven athlete I’ve ever been around,” he said. “Not only is he an elite player, but he’s willing to put the work in to continue to try to be the best player he can be. … I have the privilege of watching him on a daily basis put the work in to be the player that he is.”Toronto center Nazem Kadri says it’s tough to pick among Crosby, McDavid and Matthews.“I still think Sid’s an incredible player and McDavid’s definitely up there,” he said. “(Matthews) is creeping up there. … To me, McDavid’s speed is just incredible and so hard to stop. You can’t necessarily make a mistake when he’s on the ice because when you’re beside him you’re going to be behind him.”Maple Leafs center John Tavares went head-to-head with Crosby for nine seasons while with the New York Islanders.“He doesn’t take anything for granted and his work ethic’s tremendous,” Tavares said. “He puts a lot of commitment into being the player that he is.”Crosby has five assists in six games this season playing on a line with Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust — the first time he’s gone without a goal this long. But Sullivan’s admiration is undiminished.“He leaves no stone unturned,” Sullivan said. “He takes care of himself physically. He trains so hard, both off the ice and on the ice. We learn as much from Sid as I think he does from our coaching staff with just the way he thinks the game.” WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) Not many people, if any Sonny Milano Jersey , expected the Winnipeg Jets to have one of the NHL’s best teams this season.Vegas Golden Knights assistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon was one of the few.The former owner, general manager and coach of the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings said he watched Winnipeg play 20 times last season, giving him a peek at what was to come.”It was pretty easy to see that it was going to happen,” McCrimmon said. ”This year, certainly it has.”The Jets earned 114 points during the regular season, trailing only Nashville.Winnipeg advanced in the playoffs for the first time since moving from Atlanta in 2011. The Jets lost only once to Minnesota in the first round, and eliminated the top-seeded Predators on the road in Game 7 of the second round.The Jets clearly looked like the better team in a 4-2 win Saturday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against Vegas, the darling of the NHL in its expansion season.Suddenly, Winnipeg might have the best chance of winning the Stanley Cup, especially if it wins Game 2 at home on Monday night.The Jets have a pair of fantastic lines up front along with two solid ones and a strong group of defenseman led by Dustin Byfuglien , and 24-year-old Connor Hellebuyck has been one of the best goaltenders this postseason.How has a franchise, which has largely been an afterthought in the league http://www.bluejacketsshoponline.com/authentic-zach-werenski-jersey , gone from finishing fifth or worse in its division the previous three seasons to having one of the world’s best hockey teams?”They put on a clinic in drafting and developing,” McCrimmon said. ”Along with that, great patience and leadership from Mark Chipman as an owner.”What they did takes time.”Unlike other NHL teams, which fire general managers and coaches if they don’t quickly have success, the Jets have allowed general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to build a championship contender since hiring him in 2011 when they left Atlanta. He was just 20 games above .500 in his first five seasons as Winnipeg’s GM, and its only previous postseason appearance in 2015 lasted just four games against Anaheim.Coach Paul Maurice, likewise, was afforded the opportunity to lead the team for fourth-plus season this year. He made the most of it by helping the Jets go 52-20-10 during the regular season.But ultimately, it comes down to having talented, unselfish players, and the Jets have plenty.When Winnipeg had high draft picks, as it often did as a struggling team Authentic Alexander Radulov Jersey , it didn’t miss.Patrik Laine, a 20-year-old winger, was drafted second overall two years ago and is one of the league’s best young players. He had 70 points in the regular season and scored his fourth goal of the playoffs in Game 1.Mark Scheifele, selected No. 7 overall in 2011, leads all postseason scorers with 12 goals and has averaged more than a point per game the past two seasons. On the back end, defenseman Jacob Trouba has been exceptional in the playoffs as the franchise hoped he would be eventually after taking him No. 9 overall in 2012.The Jets have also hit on some late-round picks, including Hellebuyck, whom they took No. 130 overall six years ago.”Hit home run after home run in the draft,” captain Blake Wheeler said . ”A lot of our marquee players are guys we drafted and have taken huge steps in the last year or two to be impact players.”Winnipeg didn’t draft its best player, Wheeler, but the franchise acquired him from Boston in a trade while it was in Atlanta in 2011 and has built around him. That same year, the Thrashers took advantage of Chicago’s need to get rid of salaries by dealing for Byfuglien.And like the front office and coaching staff Womens Ben Bishop Jersey , it seems the players were patient about the process of slowly building a winner when the team moved to Canada.”We weren’t coming here expecting to blow the doors off right away,” Byfuglien said. ”We knew it was going to be a process of building and finding the right group of guys.”But when it looked like the Jets had a shot to contend this season, they were willing to give up a first-round pick to St. Louis just before the trade deadline to add veteran center Paul Stastny to chase the Stanley Cup. And now, they might just be the team to beat.”The story of Winnipeg and the Jets, for far too long, has been about being underdogs and underrated,” Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said. ”But not anymore.”—Follow Larry Lage at https://twitter.com/larrylage—
      March 11, 2019 9:35 PM MDT
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