No, it’s not Alex Ovechkin’s fault. [USA Today]. The Washington Capitals were eliminated from the playoffs last night in heartbreaking fashion to the New York Rangers, [NY Post] and no doubt the common narrative will surround Ovechkin and his failure to reach the conference final in his career. No one is tougher on Alex Ovechkin than I have been over the past few seasons. I tend to note the fact that he floats around the defensive zone. I point out how he just waits around for someone to get him the puck. I don’t believe that he makes the players around him better, but rather he’s a one-trick goal scoring pony. This season however, he’s made it difficult for me to say all those things.
He had a remarkable year in terms of cementing himself as one of the greatest goal scorers in NHL history. He is a sure-fire hall of famer. But obviously, the one strike on him is the fact that he has yet to win a Stanley Cup. Now this is not a debate on whether we can measure a players’ greatness by championships. That’s an article for another day. But the Capitals were once again sent packing, and Ovechkin still has yet to taste the Conference finals. But don’t blame him. He wants to win so badly. You could see it in his eyes as he sat in defeat after the Rangers scored in overtime.
He scored the Capitals only goal in game 7. He had six shots on goal. Hockey is the ultimate team game, and Ovechkin did his part. So did his goalie Braden Holtby. The Capitals are a great team. They got the perfect coach in Barry Trotz. They played an effective style. But in the end, the Rangers got the bounce they needed to win. Ovechkin will get blamed because at the stage of his career, with his kind of talent, and the good teams he’s played for, he should have at least made it to the third round. It’s a shame he hasn’t yet. But this season, putting the blame on him is foolish. And no, he didn’t guarantee his team would win. He answered a question. People turned it into a guarantee to have a good story.
You know people will say that this series should have never gotten to a game seven. If Ovechkin had scored more in the series, perhaps the Caps wouldn’t have blown a 3-1 lead. But hockey isn’t that simple of a game. The Rangers were the best team in the regular season. Ovechkin doesn’t deserve the blame. Yes, he’s going home earlier than he would like. Yes, the Capitals have to answer for their lack of playoff success. [Sportsnet]. But they have a young enough core that a few small tweaks can take them over the top. Alex Ovechkin will get his Stanley Cup one day. He’s too good not to win. There’s your guarantee.
In other news…
Bad hit by Brooks Orpik? [Hockey Feed]
Things are going better in Edmonton? It was bound to happen. [Copper n Blue]
Some thoughts on the Oilers offseason of needs. [Medium]
Could the Flames have a goalie to offer? [Today’s Slap Shot]
Would the Canucks considering trading Eddie Lack? [Canucks Army]
No, don’t trade Taylor Hall. [Cult of Hockey]
Considering the Habs propensity to pick grit and hard work over skill, is Phil Kessel a good fit? Judging by the way they are starved for offence, it may be time to change things up. [The Hockey News]
Connor McDavid isn’t ready for his junior career to be over. [CBC]
What does the future hold for Matt Cullen? [Tennessean]
The Penguins have some bad contracts to sort through. [Pens Labyrinth]
Here is the full schedule for the upcoming Conference Finals: [NHL]
Regardless of what happens this year, the future in Tampa Bay is very bright. [Deadspin]
And finally, what’s the deal with the astronaut man at Lightning games? [Sportsnet]