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Ovechkin’s defense under the microscope…again

May 9, 2013, 11:30 AM EDT

After Game 3, it was the way he defended (or didn’t defend) Ryan McDonagh at the point prior to the Rangers’ game-winner by Derek Stepan.

Now, after Game 4, it was his effort (or lack thereof) in trying to stop Stepan’s second game-winner in a row.

Following is the goal. You decide if Alex Ovechkin‘s defensive play deserves to be ridiculed this morning on Deadspin.

It doesn’t look good, especially in GIF form.
Derek Stepan goal Capitals/Rangers 5/8/2013 - Created at

But Capitals blog Russian Machine Never Breaks puts the blame on the other Caps on the ice, calling Ovechkin’s late straight-legged appearance a “bad visual, but that’s all.”

Ovechkin’s a winger, so Stepan — a center — wouldn’t normally be his responsibility. (Wingers take the point men.)

And perhaps Ovechkin figured he was way too late to get to Stepan anyway. Which he probably was.

And hey, at least he got a great view of an exciting moment.

At any rate, Game 5 of the series — which is now tied at two games apiece — goes Friday in Washington.

  1. sheppyshep8 - May 9, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    “Ovechkin’s defense…”

    no such thing.

    • faulkner22 - May 9, 2013 at 12:42 PM

      Jim Delany thinks that even the B1G10 plays better defense than Ovechkin does.

    • ravenscaps48 - May 9, 2013 at 12:44 PM

      Best GIF EVER!!! And I’m a Caps fan!

      • ibieiniid - May 9, 2013 at 1:11 PM

        BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA that’s excellent.

    • valoisjoeybfeld69 - May 9, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      And people call this guy a good captain. He is not deserving of wearing a C.

      • ravenscaps48 - May 9, 2013 at 2:51 PM

        Time Out…. I speak for the majority of Caps fans with this. We know Ovechkin isn’t the Captain and Brooks Laich is.

      • joelwrobinson - May 9, 2013 at 5:48 PM

        His Hart Trophy nomination argues your opinoion.

      • valoisjoeybfeld69 - May 9, 2013 at 6:05 PM

        Please. Putting lip stick on a pig doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a pig.

    • aldog83 - May 9, 2013 at 3:29 PM

      I’m sure any team in the league would VERY HAPPY to trade their top “Back checking! Or defensive player for OVECHKIN!!!!!

      Give the guy a break!

      Caps screwed without him!

      • barkar942 - May 9, 2013 at 4:31 PM

        Not even in a million years!
        There is not a reason in the world that when he sees Stepan get in the open that he shouldn’t make a beeline for him like he high steps when he gets the puck to head up ice! He can fly with the puck. Why can’t he fly do defend? He at least could have gotten a stick on Stepan if he moved his feet!
        The only way he would be worth it is if he scored three for every one his lazy defensive play allowed.
        games goals assists points +/-
        Alex Ovechkin 48 32 24 56 2
        Derek Stepan 48 18 26 44 25

        I’ll take the defensively responsible player any day!

      • jakreidler - May 9, 2013 at 4:32 PM

        Top back checker.. Datsyuk for Ovechkin? No thanks.

      • valoisjoeybfeld69 - May 10, 2013 at 5:23 PM

        The question you should ask yourself is the following. How many teams would trade their top point getter for Ovi?

    • caponslugger - May 9, 2013 at 7:48 PM

      People say this in the same game that he crushes the guy on the power play backcheck. So yeah “no such thing”

  2. scionofflame - May 9, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    Even if he was ‘too late’, the completely defeated stance that Ovechkin has there just says it all. Arms at the sides, not even mad. Just looks defeated. It is a bad visual, and it doesn’t look good for the Caps.

    • jhuck92 - May 9, 2013 at 12:03 PM

      And that’s why he’s not a good captain in my opinion. He’s more than happy to score goals and celebrate, but when it comes to defense, he doesn’t like getting his hot hands dirty. Not a leader by example, that’s for sure.

    • elvispocomo - May 9, 2013 at 12:10 PM

      Yup, you still follow through on the man to take him out of the play in the event of a rebound. Horrible Ovi, horrible.

    • imleftcoast - May 9, 2013 at 12:21 PM

      The GIF isn’t meaningful as a hockey fan. He’s clearly too late to do anything at that point. You have to look at the replay at :25 to see he was coasting from the blue line. He didn’t take a stride despite the play that was developing, and that is why he was too late in the GIF. Really embarrassing that he was killing himself to get back in the play and at least try and make it a difficult pass across.

    • valoisjoeybfeld69 - May 9, 2013 at 12:59 PM

      The guy was floating at the red line while his teammates were defending their zone. He’s not the real deal, and never will be.

      • stakex - May 9, 2013 at 3:39 PM

        Actually, Backstrom had the puck on his stick and was turning up ice… so it would make sense for Ovechkin to start on the breakout. Backstrom ends up caughing the puck up and it all goes bad. Not Ovechkins fault.

      • valoisjoeybfeld69 - May 9, 2013 at 4:01 PM

        Stakex, problem is he was at center ice before Backstrom was even close to controlling the puck. Rule 1 in D play. Don’t leave the zone until your teammate is in full control of the puck. Crazy 8 had a brain fart. Anybody else would be benched. A 4th liner wouldn’t dress for next game.

  3. ibieiniid - May 9, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    the only reason OV’s defense shouldn’t be ridiculed is because he’s consistently been a non-factor on defense for his entire career. they should be tired of calling him out on it by now.

    • valoisjoeybfeld69 - May 9, 2013 at 1:01 PM

      Look! Being a non factor is one thing, but displaying poor judgement and that being the cause of goals in the playoffs is unacceptable. He shouldn’t be wearing C if he can’t demonstrate leadership by words and actions.

      • ibieiniid - May 9, 2013 at 1:07 PM

        i agree (and thumbs up) up until questioning the C. being in the DC area, Caps are my 2nd team and until last season i’ve watched more Caps games than Flyers, and I’ve never once seen anything to indicate that OV doesn’t lead his team every night and deserve the C. I like him as a Cap’n… but Russians are Russians and playing 100% 100% of the time isn’t always in their programming. he’d be 2x the player if it was, but it isn’t. no point in ridiculing him at this point in his career, just not part of his game.


  4. freestyle1022 - May 9, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    Even Phil Kessel was back checking last night… Come on 8

  5. jpelle82 - May 9, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    cant believe i’m doing this but…it wasnt his man, he wasnt gonna catch him, and he certainly wouldnt have been able to get to the pass either. he doesnt even come back into the zone until oleksy gets beat. granted it doesnt look good when you glide toward the eventual goal scorer without even taking a stride and your stick up in the air but he couldnt have done anything on this one.

    blame hillen, he let stepan behind him and for some reason jumped up on callahan when oleksy was already there.

    • capitalspearljam - May 9, 2013 at 11:57 AM

      yeah, i agree, but its also the playoffs, and he is the captain, at least fake it a little

    • elvispocomo - May 9, 2013 at 12:12 PM

      And if there is somehow a save on the shot, should Ovi just keep coasting because he’d never get to one of the 3 Rangers converging on that side of the net and prevent a second shot off the rebound?

    • valoisjoeybfeld69 - May 9, 2013 at 1:03 PM

      maybe so. Ovi was at center ice looking like a baseball player shagging flyballs during BP.

  6. f2maestro - May 9, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    This must be a Russian thing…. Geno looks just like Ovi on defense.

    • challer9 - May 9, 2013 at 3:28 PM

      Never mind the best defensive forward of the last decade is Russian. Do I have to even say his name?

    • sportsfreak13 - May 9, 2013 at 4:07 PM

      You do know that Geno led the league in takeaways last year right?

  7. mp1113 - May 9, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    As horrible as this looks, the caps failed to clear twice on that shift. Although his defense is horrible that was just an all around horrible defensive game by the whole team

  8. myroncopesflask - May 9, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    I’m not sure which visual is funnier. The Gif above or Ovie tripping over the blue line at the end of game 3 to draw a penalty. I call it a draw… 1975

    • ithacamike - May 9, 2013 at 3:10 PM

      Did you even watch that game? Brad Richards hit Ovie in the face with his stick. He kept playing though and popped right up after hitting the ice…I doubt he expected the Caps to get a call in their favor in that game. I mean, they whistled the Caps for too many men when the Rags had 10 dudes on the ice.

  9. schneggs16 - May 9, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    It doesn’t matter who you are, what type of player you are, or the contract you sign – when your “Captain” shows that type of leadership on the ice – he doesn’t deserve to have any letter on his jersey!

  10. mattybo - May 9, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    Let me start this by saying i’m a rangers fan who lives in Maryland and don’t like Ovechkin or the caps one bit.

    That being said, you know what you get with him. He is an incredible offensive talent only a handful of players in the league can rival but he is a defensive liability. The majority of the time the weapon he is on offense outweighs the halfass plays like this one or where he gets caught cherry picking for the 1000th time. He has been around long enough everyone needs to come to grips with the fact that he is a phenomenal talent but you have to deal with lows like this.

    • mattybo - May 9, 2013 at 1:27 PM

      Also, i’m far from defending him. He is getting paid $100 mil to be a lazy bum but it shouldn’t shock anyone.

  11. wicky888 - May 9, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    He looks like my player in NHL 13 when my controller dies

  12. dabutcha114 - May 9, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    Sums up how the rest of the series is gonna go. Rangers in 6. Cap fans keep pretending your captain is a leader.

  13. jkay1818 - May 9, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    definitely late on the play and of course the last one back, but at least attempt to try and play D or show an effort. Other defenders had a chance on breaking up that play too.
    Lost in all this, that was one hell of a play to set up that goal, great passing.
    That was just a microcosm of the game yesterday. The rangers were getting to most of the loose pucks and keeping it in the zone all night, allowing themselves to get scoring chances.
    Ovechkin is a great skater, his size alone makes him a force, but i think people hear the name ovechkin and automatically think he’s playing amazing. eg: someone was texting me during the game last night “ovi is unreal, best player on the ice, hes scary good” i was confused because i think he has two total shots the past two games. He was also attempting some bad shots, deflecting off of players going out of the zone, taking bad angle shots that caromed off the boards and out of the zone. All that being said he can go off at anytime, but when he doesn’t he hurts his team more than he helps.

    • har21441 - May 9, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      I can see one person that the spectacular passing on that goal was not lost on. He looks like he was watching a fine game out there.

  14. billyhauntswizards - May 9, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    his defense AND offense have been non-existent. Ryan McD and Danny G deserve credit for making him a non-factor but he’s REALLY gotta be better if the caps have any hope of winning this series. It’s got to the point where I couldn’t care less if Ovi was on the ice, I care more if Green is frankly.

  15. barkar942 - May 9, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    Thank you, Jason. I am glad you saw my earlier posts about a video to teach how not to back check. I feel as soon as he saw Stepan headed for the open side if he was moving his butt at full speed he could have at least possibly gotten a stick check on Stepan and perhaps would have deflected it. (but happy that he didn’t).

  16. Stiller43 - May 9, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Granted he may have been too late to get to him, but the original passing in the zone looked like a 5 on 4 PP. when he finally does show up, hes gliding like he’s taking his grandmother skating for the first time.

    If he was skating as hard as he could (or showed SOME kind of effort there, even if be were too late, the criticism would have a reason to stop.

  17. kotteintheslot - May 9, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    This is hard to watch but something tells me that number 8 will have his best game in game 5. I bet he hates to see this more than anyone else.

    • har21441 - May 9, 2013 at 2:20 PM

      when he was down shifting through the neutral zone, do you think he forgot about all of the cameras carrying live feeds of the game? How can he hate to see it, yet do it so consistently? He should at least try to blend in out there – untuck the jersey, untint the visor, replace the yellow laces….at least then he might get confused for someone actually giving an effort.

  18. jdvalk - May 9, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    Caps management has done such a fantastic job over Ovechkin’s tenure in acquiring and developing outstanding defensive personnel as well as an amazingly consistent playoff-proven philosophy that provides on-ice defensive cohesion from coach to coach to coach to coach, haven’t they? Ovechkin is the least of the Caps’ problems, and his play has been the main reason that what is otherwise a suspect lineup even has a playoff series to discuss.

  19. jmsalsa - May 9, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    Dear Ovie….

    Please note – this is how you win playoff hockey games:


    Justin Williams – LA Kings

  20. 19inarow - May 9, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    And this is why the Capitals will never win the Cup with Ovechkin on the team, regardless of how many goals he’d score. I’d expect more from a 40-year-old playing in a pre-season game. Truly pathetic. Oates should show him some video of the Isles playing Pittsburgh to see how playoff games are played. And won.

    I live around the corner from Madison Square Garden and I now expect to see all those Ranger jerseys passing my window for another round.

  21. DED - May 9, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    I think Ovie was hoping one of his teammates was going to clear the puck his way so that he could get a breakaway because that’s more his style. There’s no other excuse he could have to justify coasting in from the red line.

  22. dearyxd - May 9, 2013 at 2:27 PM

  23. sporkov - May 9, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    The biggest culprits in this are Johansson and Backstrom, mostly Johansson. Flubs on an opportunity to get the puck out the zone and then knocks the puck away from Backstrom as he is trying to clear. He then makes minimal effort to get the puck from Callahan.

  24. stakex - May 9, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    The lack of hockey IQ around here is kind of sickening. A whole lot of bad things happen on this play, but none of them are on Ovechkin. Watch the video from behind the net…. Ovechkins man is right behind him the whole time. Its his job to cover the Rangers defenseman at the point, not the winger next to the net. To put any blame on Ovechkin for this play, is to completely ignore that whoever was suppose to cover Stepan was MIA.

    You can find shots of wingers drifting around watching goals be scored almost every time there is a goal. They aren’t really suppose to be hanging down low around their own net. Its just because its Ovechkin, and Pens fans need to take their minds off their own teams problems, that its a big deal. Besides, if Backstrom doesn’t make a bad play with the puck this goal never happens anyway. Where are all the “Backstrom’s defensive play under microscope” articles?

    • valoisjoeybfeld69 - May 9, 2013 at 4:34 PM

      You’re one of those guys with low IQ. He’s a right winger and should be in the high slot. You need layers of defense to cover for giveaways/takeaways. He wasn’t at his position. Period.

    • 2jivecrew - May 11, 2013 at 12:28 PM

      LOL you call THAT covering the point?

      I been playing hockey 20 years bud. Anytime you think you’re ready just let me know and we can meet up at Saveology Iceplex or I can get you into a private game at Palm Beach Skate Zone.

      And the difference between Ovie and his teammates in this case……..his teammates were actually skating and trying.

  25. stockspyder - May 9, 2013 at 4:13 PM

    Reblogged this on StockSpyder and commented:
    Way to backcheck there Ovi!

  26. thedavesiknowiknow - May 9, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    Oh that’s brutal! I can’t make out who it is (bottom right of the frame), but they’re in NO MAN’S LAND and they at least take a couple strides for the sake of saying they at least gave it some effort. That, and their arms aren’t at their sides pouting before the puck is in the net. Whether it was his man or not- minimal effort gets Ovechkin in a position to tie Stepan up, or to haul him down and take a “good penalty”, even just fall short and save face in a playoff in which players are giving up their faces in some instances. I never thought I’d see the day- but I’m glad such a “gifted” player is nowhere near my roster.

  27. cruuuzcontrol - May 9, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    skatex… You can’t be serious. The Rangers d-man is the only one who’s worried about defense there. He’s playing in the neutral zone to prevent Ovi from getting a clean cherry picking breakaway. Like the two the Rangers gave up in game 1. Ovi ain’t playing no point defense there… Because no one plays point defense in the neutral zone!! If Ovi wanted to show he even remotely cared about defending his own zone, he would at least have been within a foot of the Caps’ blue line. He was not… Thus, his commitment to defensive play is exposed before a national audience in this most hilarious and humiliating way.

    • valoisjoeybfeld69 - May 9, 2013 at 6:03 PM

      Just watched the video again from an angle I had not seen before. He is clearly on the other side of center ice behind the Rangers D man when Callahan got control of the puck. The Caps D had to cover the slot area because Mr. Hart trophy finalist was cruising at center ice looking for the puck. This cause Stepan to make his way behind the D. Until this clown wins a SC and the Smythe, he’ll always be known as guy who could, but didn’t.

  28. cl6198 - May 9, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    Anyone defending Ovechkin for this play is an idiot. Had he even put in a little effort he could have broken up that pass. He coasted from before the blue line!! And to those of you saying that was not his man, are you serious!!! Just because he is not his man if you have any desire to win and you see a man wide open in front of your Golie you bust your @ss to get there. It’s such a losers response to say that wasn’t his man. Winners make plays losers make excuses.

  29. 2jivecrew - May 11, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    The good news is that anybody with even an ounce of brain matter now knows that it is/has been/always will be a complete joke that this lazy, one dimensional clown was ever in the same discussion as Crosby as the best player in the world. Rational people knew it even then, but so many were dazzled by Ovie’s one trick (scoring goals) that they ignored the glaring deficiencies in the rest of his game.

    He’s already in full dog mode by the time he comes into the frame. Not skating at all, just gliding. And when you watch the video you can see he gave up long before that. If Ovechkin had actually come into that frame skating hard he could’ve easily broke up that play. And don’t sit there, Caps/Ovie fans, and try to say he was hanging back to cover the point. Ovie is ALWAYS down low and out of position in his own end. He was at the bottom of the circle last night on the Boyle goal.

    Ovechkin is garbage. And no, most GM’s in the league would NOT trade their top players for Ovechkin. But we all know GMGM would trade Ovie and all their top picks over the next 5 years for Crosby in a heartbeat……..not that Shero would ever be dumb enough to take on Ovie or his bloated contract.

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