Oh Captain, My Captain: Alex Ovechkin

Alex Ovechkin’s play has been critiqued what seems to be a lot more than normal this season. Mike Milbury has done plenty of it, from getting off the ice to avoid a -, to having the leagues worst +/- combined with the league lead in goal, something no one has ever done in the NHL. While +/- is a broken stat that is effected by your linemates shooting percentage combine with your goalies save percentage, it is still an indicator of how many even strength goals you are on the ice for. And Alex Ovechkin is one the ice for a lot of even strength goals against.

Although he has minimal control how many goals goal in whether it be for the Capitals or whoever they are playing, he does have control on how well he plays defense. Something that Capitals fans know don’t go together, Ovechkin and good defense. But let me clarify this right now, I don’t expect him to play such great defense that he would win the Frank J. Selke, however it is almost exclusively a centers award. One of the reasons, in my opinion, that Ovechkin wasn’t the Captain of Russia in Sochi, was because of his defense. Pavel Datsyuk is one of the best defense AND offense forwards in the NHL, which is why he was named Captain of that team.



Earlier in that play Ovechkin does what he loves to do, skate up ice hoping for a breakaway the moment the Capitals get control in the defensive zone. Read more about that here on RMNB

This is perfect, because Bob McKenzie was right. Criticizing Ovechkin’s defense was like “finding fault al best you can with somebody”. However that was in 2009, when they team took the eventual Stanley Cup winning Penguins to game seven. That Capitals team was a force to reckon with, but this team is just a lion without the claws.

I agree and disagree with a few thing from this video. I agree that 60 goal scorer Ovechkin was the opposite of the “Lazy Russian” player, but the Alex Ovechkin of this team isn’t that. That Ovechkin, night in and night out, played with his heart on his sleeve. He cared, he wanted to win, and he wanted to be the best. I obviously don’t believe Ovechkin isn’t a top 10 player. You just can’t think that he is, while leading the league in goals back to back years.

Now this Milbury rant isn’t my favorite, but I still agree with some  that he says. The line change on the goal is inexcusable. It is NEVER acceptable to change when the other team is in the offensive zone, especially when its the long change. Milbury is also right with the blind pass. You just can’t blindly throw a pass in the NHL, the league is just too good for that.

But this isn’t about his defense, it is about him as a Captain. This is the aspect in which he fails for the Capitals. Ovechkin is like another player who every American likes, Patrick Kane. Both have big Ego’s that came from being great players. There is a reason, however, that Kane is not the captain of that Blackhawks team. Jonathan Toews is the definition of a great leader. He lets his play do the talking for him, he never makes excuses, and he plays every shift like his last.


This is a great post game interview from Toews a few days ago. At the end, Toews believes that the interviewer is trying to make excuses, and Toews doesn’t want to make them. He talks about how they they need to play “character hockey” when “the bounces aren’t going their way” and he is right.


Here is Ovechkin’s post-game from last night. Maybe I’m being nitpicky because Ovechkin makes good points. His powerplay shot needs to hit the net so guys like Brouwer can find the rebound.

I don’t expect Ovechkin to be a shutdown defender, nor do I want him to. Ovechkin got paid to score goals, that is what he does and I love it. He is the best Capitals player no if ands or buts. Without his this team is just a glorified Buffalo Sabres with too many problems to count with both hands. It is just that he isn’t the captain that I want.




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