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Dismiss Alex Ovechkin at your own peril

Sep 19, 2010, 7:30 PM EDT

alexoatcamp.jpgRather than looking at his outstanding stats in the playoffs (10 points in 7 games against Montreal; 40 in 28 in his career overall), many people take the same, lazy formula for judging Alex Ovechkin: “Ovechkin plays in the game + Capitals lose = Ovechkin let his team down.”

Hockey is a team sport, through and through. Unlike a sport like basketball where one player can have an enormous impact on a game, blaming one man (or giving one player too much credit) can be a fool’s errand. After all, aside from an all-world defenseman who might log 30 minutes during some games, most skaters aren’t even on the ice for half of the game. Perhaps the “he hasn’t won anything” argument can be used to illustrate why he might not unanimously be the best player in the NHL, but it’s ridiculous to think that hockey’s greatest star lost his shine.

That’s the question Mike Zeisberger poses in this piece, though he doesn’t necessarily agree with that stance. Here is an excerpt from that column.

For some of us, he is still the most electrifying, riveting talent in the game, the one player that is worth the price of the NHL’s at-times inflated admission.

At the same time, it is evident that the bloom, in the eyes of some, has come off the rose.

Maybe it’s because they remember how Ovechkin’s so-called powerful Olympic team was humiliated 7-3 by Team Canada at the Vancouver Winter Games.

Maybe it’s because the image of Ovechkin’s controversial hit on Chicago’s Brian Campbell remains etched in their minds, an incident that landed the Caps’ sniper a two-game suspension.

Maybe it’s because the critics claim he hasn’t, at least from a team standpoint, won anything, pointing to the Caps’ first-round exit to the underdog Montreal Canadiens this past spring as a prime example.

Weighing all the factors, is it really fair to put all these things on the shoulders of Ovechkin, whose team has won just one playoff series during his time in Washington?

It’s far too early to give up on Ovechkin and the Caps. Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Semin and Mike Green are just entering their prime years right now. The team’s two young goalies could provide a cheap, competent alternative to an expensive veteran. Maybe they don’t have a shutdown defenseman, but considering their youth and talent, it’s not impossible to imagine things working out for Washington.

Anyone who’s soured on Ovechkin needs to remember that a huge chunk of the greatest players in sports needed to get knocked down before they reached their greatest heights.

  1. Me - Sep 20, 2010 at 9:40 PM

    Beavis and Butthead are going to score before Ovie ever wins a Stanley Cup or an Olympic Gold Medal.

  2. Fecteau - Sep 22, 2010 at 11:48 AM

    Are you a Penguins fan? Just curious…
    Actually,the Penguins got knocked out by those underacheiving Canadiens in the round right AFTER the Caps… A team that just won the Cup a year prior. It should at least prove that you hit a hot goaltender in Halak, its almost impossible to beat. They came that close…
    And for the record, if McPhee and Leonsis stop day dreaming, they’ll realize that they can’t keep this offensively gifted team together forever, and they hopefully realize that they either need to get a defenseman that compliments Mike Green’s leave ’em high and dry to get some points on the board’ attitude or trade him for some actual defensive talent…
    The Caps would have won that series against the Canadiens if Greenie knew how to play D… And for the price we could get for Green, we should trade him for a solid D man (and maybe some picks or money) to train John Carlson and Karl Alzner, because they are top level talents that will most likely be in the All Star game in a 4-5 years, less if they had that mentor (like Chris Pronger had in St Louis with Al MacInnis)
    Go Caps! I’ll see you in Atlanta 10/8!!!!

  3. StakeX - Sep 22, 2010 at 2:10 PM

    The fact of the matter is Washington as a team played bad the last three games of the first round, and thats why they lost to Montreal. Ovechkin had more then a point a game, and even scored a goal that would have tied game 7 with a few minutes left, if it wasn’t jokingly taken away by a terrible call of interference. What more could he have really done? Lets not forget that Semin is also a very good player, and he absolutely vanished in the series… if Semi scores 3 goals in the series Washington probably wins. Goaltending and defense also cost Washington, as well as the teams inability to get second chances in the final three games.
    Credit also goes to Montreal of course, but to blame Ovechkin for the loss (or the loss the year before when he had 14 points in the sereies) is irrational. Washington as a whole blew both series…

  4. Fecteau - Oct 4, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    I agree wholeheartedly! Ovie has been a team player. He might have not been when he first came into the league, but that’s because they were arguably the worst in the league. Didn’t he score like 58% or something like that of their goals for the entire season? That’s horrid!
    But now that he has a talented crew in front of him, he’s in a better position to be in a leadership role. Now that he has the C on his jersey, he’s a different player. I think if the Caps can show that their D is improved (with Carlson and Alzner like previously mentioned) and possibly rely on Mike Green not to make dumb mistakes, along with hopefully no more back breaking bad calls (this isn’t the first time, I see it every year since the Caps made the playoffs in 08)they really can win the Cup in the next few years…

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