It's setting up as a memorable NHL scoring duel and not just because of the names at the top.
Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby have separated themselves from their peers a quarter of the way into the NHL season, racking up points at a rate not seen around the league in 15 years.
They both sat at 35 points through Monday's games - putting them on pace to top 130. That hasn't happened since Mario Lemieux captured the Art Ross Trophy with 161 points in 1995-96.
While some might expect the pace to slow as the season wears on, it's possible the Pittsburgh Penguins captain and Tampa Bay Lightning forward could spur one another on. Recall that they tied for the league lead in goals last season, with Crosby scoring twice in his final game to briefly move ahead before Stamkos matched him with one into an empty net later in the day.
"All those top players want to be considered the best," Penguins GM Ray Shero said Tuesday. "Whether it was last year with the Rocket Richard when [Crosby] scored 51 and then Stamkos scored 51 as well — I think between them it was a bit of a race. It went down to the final day of the year.
"I would think [the scoring race] is in the back of their mind [now]. They're cognizant of it."
Stamkos has grabbed more headlines so far this season. He's scored 20 goals over the first 21 games — prompting some to start asking if he might become just the ninth player ever to score 50 in 50.
Playing on a line with Martin St. Louis and Steve Downie, he's also been getting assists and is currently on pace for 137 points.
Shero has watched the 20-year-old play against his team a fair bit over his first two-plus seasons in the NHL and marvels at his progression.
"He's one of those guys when he's on the ice you're just praying he's not around the puck," said Shero. "He's got great speed, a great release, an unbelievable shot — he is a really, really dangerous player. There's only maybe a handful of guys like that in the league."
Stamkos is vying to extend an unusual trend in the NHL. A different player has won the scoring race each of the past nine seasons, dating back to the last of Jaromir Jagr's titles in 2000-01.
One of those players was Crosby, who won the Art Ross as a sophomore in 2007 when he registered a career-best 120 points.
Now in his sixth season at the age of 23, he continues to work hard on his game. Crosby is in the midst of a nine-game point streak that has seen him reel in Stamkos with nine goals and 20 points.
"He's got it going," said Shero. "He's driving the net, he's shooting the puck — there's a lot of different things to his arsenal. Every time he's on the ice he seems to make something happen.
"He's putting up the points now and I guess there's no coincidence that we're winning some hockey games as well."
Crosby has played one more game than Stamkos this season and is on pace for a shade over 130 points.
The highest total post-lockout came from Joe Thornton, who had 125 points while splitting the 2005-06 season between Boston and San Jose.
The average scoring champion over the past 13 years finished with 111 points — one fewer than Vancouver Canucks forward Henrik Sedin registered last season.