Super Bowl special: Who is the NHL's version of Peyton Manning?

Who is the NHL's version of Peyton Manning? Alex Ovechkin gets at least one vote. USA TODAY Sports, Getty Images

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Who is the NHL's version of Peyton Manning?

Pierre LeBrun@Real_ESPNLeBrun: I would have to say Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. How can there be a better comparison? Both Manning and Ovechkin are the king of the regular-season MVP awards and have offensive numbers through the roof. But championships? At least Manning has one Super Bowl title under his belt. Ovechkin is one of the great superstars of his era, but he will never be held in the same esteem as Pavel Datsyuk, Sidney Crosby or Jonathan Toews without either a Stanley Cup ring or an Olympic gold medal. It's unfair, perhaps, but it's how it works in sports. If Manning wins a second Super Bowl on Sunday night, the comparison with Ovechkin will no longer work -- for obvious reasons.

Scott Burnside@ESPN_Burnside: If I had to compare one NHLer to Peyton Manning, it would be Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. He won a championship -- as has Manning, of course -- but if you ask people what their impressions are of Fleury, the answers will be all over the map: Hall of Famer, choke artist, overrated, underappreciated. For my money, Fleury is probably one of the most underappreciated goalies of his generation and has taken too much blame for the Penguins' recent shortcomings after helping lead them to back-to-back Stanley Cup finals appearances in 2008 and 2009, and the title in '09. At the end of the day, his numbers will put him in serious Hall of Fame discussion, although the public perception of him might be vastly different.

Craig Custance@CraigCustance: Corey Crawford is the NHL's version of Manning. All he does, every season, is play rock-solid in goal for the Chicago Blackhawks, and every year there are those who question just how good he is. Like Manning, Crawford's numbers are impeccable. He has a .921 save percentage in the playoffs. He has two Stanley Cups. He's a workhorse -- no goalie has played more games this season than Crawford's 45. And yet, he's far down the list of players people want to credit for Chicago's success. Has his name ever even come up in a Vezina Trophy debate? He's had his moments of meltdown -- again, just like Manning -- including last year's performance against the Nashville Predators in the playoffs. But he's resilient, always bounces back and deserves more credit than he receives. He doesn't always look pretty, but he gets the job done. Kind of like Peyton.

Joe McDonald@ESPNJoeyMac: Sing this verse along with me, to the sounds Peyton's Nationwide commercial jingle: I would have to go with Joe. That's Joe Thornton, a world-class player, the No. 1 overall pick by the Boston Bruins in 1997, currently an assistant captain with the San Jose Sharks, and owner of 1,300 career points in 1,334 games, which is an incredible accomplishment. You know what's coming next, though: Thornton has never won a Cup. Manning at least won one Super Bowl and is playing to win a second. Unfortunately, I think Thornton will finish his career without a title. Yes, he won Olympic gold with Team Canada, but unless he wins a Stanley Cup, many will feel his career wasn't complete and (once again, to the sounds of that jingle), That would really be a shame.

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