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Claude Giroux beats Evgeni Malkin in NHL 13 cover battle, will face Pekka Rinne in final

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Claude Giroux was losing his NHL 13 cover semifinal battle with Evgeni Malkin as of late Monday afternoon, but when the polls closed at midnight, G was ahead in the voting. As a result, he'lll go head-to-head with Pekka Rinne in the final vote to determine which player will end up on the cover.

Even if Giroux loses this round, we all win with Malkin off the cover.

Maybe it's just me, but I can't see Giroux losing against Rinne. Yeah, he might have Charlie Sheen on his side, and yeah, he's a fine player -- perhaps the best goaltender in the NHL. But Giroux is a) from a huge hockey market b) has already taken down the machine that is the Penguins fan base and c) has nationwide appeal.

I like Pekka Rinne a lot, and if he weren't going against Giroux, I'd probably vote for him. It'd be cool to see a goalie from Nashville on the cover of the game. But if there was one true takeaway from this past season -- from HBO 24/7 to the playoffs -- it's that Giroux has crossed into elite superstar status in the NHL. He deserves to be on the cover, and I predict he'll end up there.

Voting ends June 4 at midnight ET. You can vote as many times as you'd like at nhl.com/covervote. The winner will be announced at the 2012 NHL Awards on June 20 in Las Vegas.