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Game 7 and Alex Ovechkin's reputation


(By Paul Chiasson - AP/Canadian Press)


There are a lot of things worthy of dread if the home team loses Wednesday night, but this one is close to tops on my list: if the Caps lose, we'll have to read 500, 1,000, 10,000 or so stories about how Alex Ovechkin yet again came up short, how Sidney Crosby's year of dominance over his rival continues, how something is missing in Ovechkin's resume and in his game, and how the two-time MVP just can't will his team to victory when it matters.

Is this fair? I have no idea. On the one hand, even superstar hockey players are on the ice for less than half a game, and I'm not sure how much willing you can do while sitting on a bench. Plus, even if you want to pin it all on one guy, Ovechkin's record in elimination games with the Caps is 5-3. Crosby's record in elimination games with the Penguins is 3-2. That's not a huge difference.

On the other hand, here are Ovechkin's stats in the games the Caps have won this series:

10 shots, 4 goals, 4 assists, +7 in 20:28 avg. minutes

And here are his stats in the games the Caps have lost this series:

14 shots, 1 goal, 0 assists, -2, in 25:36 avg. minutes.

That means he's averaging about a point every 7:42 minutes of ice time in the wins, and a point every 76:48 25:36 of ice time in the losses. The pundits won't ignore those numbers.

And it goes without saying that Sidney Crosby has won a Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal and eight playoff series. Ovechkin has won zero Cups, zero Olympic golds and one playoff series. Fair or unfair, that's why the reporters on Tuesday were asking how big of a test this Game 7 is for him.

"Well, it's not only for me; it's a test for everybody," he said. "I think everybody knows how important the game [is], and it's gonna be a huge test for all of us."

Dan Rosen from NHL.com then asked if, as a captain, Ovechkin would say something special to the group in the locker room.

"No," Ovechkin said. "Before every game, we have lots of guys who can speak, who can talk, and everybody knows what we have to do....[I] lead on the ice and be a leader in the locker room, but everybody, not only me. I'm not the only guy who play hockey here. Everybody."

Logically, you can't argue with him. Heck, it was David Steckel who played the hero in Game 6 in Pittsburgh last spring, which is not the name a lot of people would have predicted. But we all know exactly what will be written if the Caps lose. And it's already begun:

ESPN.com: Washington Capitals Captain Alex Ovechkin Must Step Up in Game 7

CSN Washington: Ovechkin Must Bring His Best In Game 7

NHL.com: Ovechkin in the Crosshairs for Game 7

Damien Cox: Caps Need to Start Fast, Ovechkin Must Lead

AP: Ovechkin's Capitals Get Ready for Another Game 7

And on and on and on. If things go badly, people will say whatever they want about Ovechkin's reputation, and they'll bash us over the heads with "1-3 in Game 7s" until that stat is imprinted on our skulls, and it will be harder and harder for Caps fans to muster an appropriate response.

Trust me, I know that there will be lots of things to be upset about if the Caps lose on Wednesday night. But this is the one I'm really dreading.

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 28, 2010; 11:56 AM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Next: Boudreau: "Heroes are made"

Comments

I think I'll be avoiding any sports publications for the next two days if the Caps lose tonight.

Posted by: MillBurray | April 28, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I think I'll be avoiding any sports publications for the next two days if the Caps lose tonight.

Posted by: MillBurray | April 28, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I agree wholeheartedly. Quality post. Here is to Ovechkin putting his team on his back and getting it done. LETS GO CAPITALS!

Posted by: mjwies11 | April 28, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

puke.

Posted by: DisgustedinArlington | April 28, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

It will be an unmitigated disaster if they lose tonight but I don't think they need to blow it up and start over. Make a few incremental changes, i.e., rugged defenseman, second line center, veteran goalie, and things will be better next year.

Posted by: playahatah | April 28, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Our father who art in DC, Hockey be thy name. Thy will will be done; The cup will be won on ice, as well as in the stands. Give us this day our hockey sticks. Forgive us our penalties, as we forgive those who cross-check against us. Lead us not into elimination, but deliver us to victory. In the name of the fans, Lord Stanley, and in the name of the C-A-P-S Caps Caps Caps!!!

Posted by: ajian1 | April 28, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Good post. I would dread it too, but I really think the Caps will win tonight.

Posted by: orson72 | April 28, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Good post. I would dread it too, but I really think the Caps will win tonight.

Posted by: orson72 | April 28, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Scoring in NHL Games 7, career:

Sidney Crosby: 2-1-3 (2 games; all of that coming in Game 7 against the Caps last year)

Alex Ovechkin: 2-1-3 (3 games)

Not a lot of difference there. And last year, Max Talbot scored both goals for the Penguins in Game 7 of the finals; Crosby was not on the ice for the last ten minutes (injury).

The last four Stanley Cup game winning goals came from the sticks of Max Talbot, Henrik Zetterberg, Travis Moen, and Frantisek Kaberle.

Sometimes -- and it is especially true in hockey -- other guys have to step up, not just the stars.

Posted by: fjc33 | April 28, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how many Game 7's the great players in hockey have played in. Game 7's mean two things:

- You battle back to force it
- You are pushed to the brink after having at least one chance to end the series earlier

Crosby has only played in two game 7's out of a possible 10 playoff series.

Ovi has played in four game 7's out of a possible 4 playoff series.

To me, that is more telling than how each player performs in the game 7's they have been in.

Posted by: SuperZ3383 | April 28, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

This is the worst choke job since .... GEORGETOWN?

Posted by: sbf845 | April 28, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Fair or not, this game is significant for Ovechkin's career and the Capital's franchise.

This is a huge opportunity for the Capital's to get Washington-area fans off the fence on hockey.

Washington is a football town with a frustrating and failing franchise led by an owner with (thankfully) deep pockets who couldn't discover talent at a Pro Bowl.

A Stanley Cup would vault hockey near football levels in a hurry around here.

GO CAPS!


Posted by: clandestinetomcat | April 28, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

How did Crosby get into a discussion about Caps-Habs game 7? Was there a trade that I'm not aware of or something?!?

Posted by: rademaar | April 28, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Game 7 won't be about Ovechkin - I don't care how good he is, he can't do it alone with the same game plan the Caps have had. Game 7 will be about whether or not the Caps can adjust to the Habs' defense, get some pressure up in the crease, and find a way to sneak a puck past Halak. Wrist shots from the blue line won't win this game, some ugly goals off rebounds after Halak gets screened will. Anybody else getting REAL tired of hearing "Halak, SAVE!"?

Posted by: paul_kensler | April 28, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Game 7 won't be about Ovechkin - I don't care how good he is, he can't do it alone with the same game plan the Caps have had. Game 7 will be about whether or not the Caps can adjust to the Habs' defense, get some pressure up in the crease, and find a way to sneak a puck past Halak. Wrist shots from the blue line won't win this game, some ugly goals off rebounds after Halak gets screened will. Anybody else getting REAL tired of hearing "Halak, SAVE!"?

Posted by: paul_kensler | April 28, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Dan - what are you counting as elimination games? Games where either they or their opponent can be eliminated? Games where their own team can be eliminated? Series' deciding games?

Posted by: stinellio12 | April 28, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Montreal -- 5

The "little" Cappies -- 1

Posted by: stephenwhelton | April 28, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

@stinellio12

I was counting games in which his team could be eliminated. Hope I did it right.

Posted by: DanSteinberg1 | April 28, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure Crosby's and Ovechkin's record in elimation games is all that relevant a comparison considering that Crosby has played in 5 playoff series in which the Pens did not face an elimination game, while Ovechkin has play in 0 series in which the Caps did not face an elimination game.

Posted by: fee336 | April 28, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with Rademaar. Unless Sidney Crosby suddenly play for the Habs, don't worry about him.

It would serve you and the general DC fanbase well to stop worrying so much about how Crosby and Ovechkin measure up all the time. It doesn't really matter what the press says about the two either way, none of that really has any bearing on the outcome of games or anything that actually matters. Losing a chance at the Stanley Cup should be a heck of a lot more painful and meaningful than the annoying things you may happen to read in the newspaper the next day.

Posted by: susan66 | April 28, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Your numbers are wrong. If Ovie has one goal and no assists in three losses in which he averaged ~ 25 min of ice time, he is averaging 1 point per 75 minutes, not one point per 25 minutes.

Posted by: DCDowntown | April 28, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

oh please ...remember pitt/detroit last year. ..game 7 ...cindy didn't even play in the pivotal 3rd period cause he was sitting on the bench crying over a hurt shoulder ....it was max talbot that had the game winner....but cindy was well enough to hoist the cup over his head! ...yes he had the game winner in the olympic final, but other than that goal, he was totally silent in that game too. . .and what did he do special in game 6 against the senators last week?? not much ....so quit gushing about him being a big game player...

Posted by: madmax521 | April 28, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

These Caps, like all before them are CHOKING DOGS....Crosby is a better player than Ovechkin. Ovechkin will not be a factor at all tonight unfortunately.

Posted by: DCFanatic | April 28, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Anyone going to the game tonight must read this latest post:

http://www.goodoldhockeyblog.blogspot.com/

On the other hand, if you're reading this, you already know this :) But please pass the message along to the corporate hack you're likely sitting next to.

Posted by: tomfoley1 | April 28, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

People are placing way too much emphasis on this series as some type of indictment on a team or a player. Geez, this isn't even in the round of 8 yet.

Great teams are not taken to the brink by a number 8 seed in the first round. Win or lose this series proves the same thing- the Caps need to get tougher.

You can't play finesse hockey in the NHL Playoffs. It may work in the regular season. But as we all know, the playoffs take on a different dimension.

So even if the Caps win or lose, this series has identified where they need to get better.

Posted by: imterpsfan2 | April 28, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I read the blog post and to think that this game will somehow define the Caps' legacy for years to come is completely ABSURD.

This series has exposed some deficiencies in the Capitals armor. But the will be addressed. Becoming a championship teams doesn't happen overnight. Win or lose this team will be among the best in hockey for years to come.

Posted by: imterpsfan2 | April 28, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Playoff hockey is less art than brute force. You have to get in a goalie's face, you have to put people in front of him, you have to clunk him a few times. You can't be firing 45-foot slapshots.

Posted by: imterpsfan2 | April 28, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

imterpsfan2,

I could not agree with you more regarding your comments above.

But I think the point of the blogger's post was to emphasize the importance of the fans tonight. Yes, over 35 years of dissapointment, we're not the most confident bunch of fans...but these negative feelings, memories and energy have no place in the bldg tonight. The players obviously feel the energy. No one wants to win as much as them.

I was at Game 5 and the negative energy was palpable. An errant pass followed by 19,000 moans and groans just adds more and more pressure --> muscles tighten --> even worse passes --> forced shots --> game over.

Even if the Caps fall behind by one or two, the crowd must act as if we are going to come back and win.

Posted by: tomfoley1 | April 28, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

I think that I will avoid anything hockey related until next season if the caps lose tonight or at least until both Montreal and Pittsburgh are also out. Barry Milrose put it pretty simply last night when he said that the entire league except the networks is rooting against the Capitals tonight because they all know that they are the best team in hockey and noone wants to play them. Of course that also leads the more immature of them to come to Washington boards ans squawk if it happens.

I wonder if there are many Capital fans that go to other teams boards and do the same things when they lose, even when it's not us they lose to. I mean I can understand trash talking from the Montreal fans because they backed into the playoffs and were not expected to do anything, but the fans of teams that we aren't even playing trash talking? Some form teams that didn't even make the playoffs? I guess we should take it as a compliment that they all have us on their minds. It would never cross my mind to trash talk on team boards that we have no interest in, which is all of them.

Posted by: dbrine1261 | April 28, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Alex is known as a goalscoring, arrogant elite player that chokes in the playoffs

He needs to do better to solidify a total superstar status.

Posted by: Bious | April 28, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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