April 25, 2012

Big Game For Ovechkin

Alexander Ovechkin leads his Washington Capitals into Boston on Wednesday night, hoping the complete arguably the biggest upset of the 2012 playoffs and oust the defending Stanley Cup champions.

In doing so, Ovechkin can go a long ways to restoring his reputation as one of the best players in the world.

It has not been a kind last couple of years for Ovechkin. The NHL's former goal king and undisputed most exciting player has slumped in the last two seasons, at least by his own impossibly high standards. His team's fortunes have also sagged.

All the while Ovechkin's reputation has deteriorated to that of a one-dimensional hockey player who is more concerned about his rock star image than the sacrifices it takes to win the big game. His defensive game is sub-standard at best, and constant losses at the Olympics and past Stanley Cup playoffs have not helped. 

Although he has played well at times, his reputation has not been bettered in this series against Boston. He has found himself benched in the third period when his team is defending a lead. It took Dale Hunter, a desperate coach with his job on the line, to finally crack down on Ovechkin's poor defensive play. By all accounts Ovechkin has taken the benching professionally and continues to be a good teammate on the bench. 

The NHL's best players play in the final minutes of every game, whether their team needs a goal or needs to prevent one. Hockey's true superstars come up big in the biggest of games. 

Ovechkin needs to re-establish himself as one of the best players in hockey. A strong game seven and a big upset win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins would go a long ways to accomplishing that. 

Here's some Pucks On The 'Net concerning the Bruins/Capitals game 7:
  • The Bruins will be relying on their experience to again come through in the clutch. Five of their last six playoff series have gone the distance. They won three consecutive game 7's in 2011 to win the Stanley Cup.
  • The Capitals, on the other hand, have a life time record of 2 for 9 in game 7s.
  • All six games have been decided by a single goal, an NHL first.

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