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I guess we’ll all be watching Alex Ovechkin intently tonight

Nov 4, 2011, 9:37 AM EDT

Alex Ovechkin Getty Images

The last we saw of Alex Ovechkin on Tuesday night against Anaheim was him kicking the puck towards Nicklas Backstrom for the game-winning goal in overtime. The bulk of that night and following day was spent analyzing Ovechkin being benched in the closing minute of regulation and how Ovechkin may or may not have cussed out Bruce Boudreau under his breath.

With the drama over with and behind us, the Caps are in Raleigh tonight to take on the Hurricanes and if you don’t think we’re all going to be watching how Ovechkin plays tonight intensely, you’re living in a world not on this planet.

Ovechkin hasn’t had to face up to these sorts of times of trouble at all before in the NHL. Never before has there been such an obvious show that he wasn’t getting the job done and made an example of because of it. How Ovechkin responds to all that will be fascinating to watch. While players will slump and go through their troubles, for Ovechkin, having it become the lead story is a new thing.

Will Ovechkin slump more or will we see the Ovi of old that is a holy terror on the ice hell-bent on destroying opponents with dynamic goals and physical play? The Carolina Hurricanes might prove to be the first of many unwilling sacrifices to Alexander the Terrifying.

  1. stakex - Nov 4, 2011 at 12:35 PM

    7 points (4 goals, 3 assists) in the last 5 games is a slump? Well then pretty much everyone in the league wishes they had “slumps” like that.

    Seriouslly, everyone needs to get off this bandwaggon already. Ovechkin had one bad game, and Boudreau made a bad call in sitting him at the end of it. Its over. Its done with, and you better believe it won’t happen again (management will not want to see its $10 million weapon sitting on the bench when its needed most).

    • danphipps01 - Nov 4, 2011 at 1:29 PM

      Again with that. Again with “Management won’t let anyone hurt their big investment’s feelings.” Last year, he was invisible. This year he’s on track for his second-lowest goals and points totals only by virtue of last year being worse, and again the same criticisms apply – he’s not using his body, he’s always taking the same shots, he floats on the ice waiting for chances to score a highlight-reel goal and look good. Yet you only see his goals and assists as numbers and the Caps management, if they make the mistakes you’re recommending, only see their investment – leaving only Boudreau to see his performance on the ice and say “Right, what the hell.” Ovi can’t coast on fame he’s earned for past accomplishments forever. Sooner or later he’s going to have to start playing like Ovi again, and that means lighting up the ice all night long – which despite those numbers of yours we both know he isn’t. If neither management nor the fans are willing to admit he is capable of fault, neither will he and he’ll turn into the world’s most overpriced thirty-goal man. Just because he’s the franchise star doesn’t mean he’s too important to face criticism and punishment for playing less than his (phenomenal) best. Babying him will accomplish nothing. He isn’t playing like himself. The Caps are winning, but he’s not a key part of that anymore. He needs to start being the force he used to be.

      • cannonblast14 - Nov 4, 2011 at 3:22 PM

        I didnt know it was possible to be invisible and still put up 85 points in 79 games. hmm. Can i try that?
        He needs to be better, but to say he has been invisible and that he hasnt been a key part of winning is rediculous. Hes still a presence and a concern out there for the opposition. Look at the OT winner the other night. The defensemen was only paying attention to Ovechkin swoop across the middle and Backstrom was wide open. He gives other stars like Semin, Backstrom, etc more ice time because he is so dangerous.
        So yes, he needs to be better. He needs to change it up, but you cant act like he never puts up any points. Not the Alex Ovechkin numbers, but still points.
        Hes not being used right on the PP either, but thats a whole ‘nother topic. And his ice time is down like 16% from other years lowering his time to score.

      • arsement - Nov 4, 2011 at 5:51 PM

        Thank you… I’m reading the first comment wondering how it’s not obvious that Ovi has not contributed much at all lately… and like an archangel danphipps saves the day.

        Good form.

      • danphipps01 - Nov 4, 2011 at 5:56 PM

        Invisible relative to his usual performance level – it’s an extreme choice of words, I’ll admit, but think about it – when “typical Ovi” is 50-plus goals and a hundred points or more, his performance last year drew attention only in the context of “What went wrong?” I know how many points he notched. I know a lot of players would call that a very good season. But this isn’t most players, this is the guy who’s in theory the next great goal-scorer, the next Hull or Lemieux. I’m not saying he’s not doing anything, but he’s not being the superstar he’s been and it doesn’t look like he’ll get out of whatever funk he’s in by being pampered and treated like he can do no wrong. Boudreau’s getting inside his comfort zone because that’s the best chance to get him back to form. The people crucifying him for not treating Ovechkin like their flawless saviour are out to lunch. He needs to be pressured to be better before he will be.

        That said, I’ll grant that “invisible” was fairly hyperbolic. A PPG player is still a natural first-liner by any standard.

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