Is Alexander Ovie-rated?

April 30, 2010

After netting only 1 of 24 shots in the deciding three games against the Habs, Ovechkin has to hear from his critics.

After watching the 8th seeded Montreal Canadiens bounce the NHL’s top team in the first round,  the Washington Capitals are stuck home watching the rest of the survivors vie for Lord Stanley’s Cup.  Not only did the Caps have more wins and more points than any other team in the regular season, they were also the most prolific goal scoring team in the league, yet this still wasn’t enough to beat a team who scored six less goals than they allowed this year.  After another playoff let down, we are left to ponder; is Alexander Ovechkin overrated?

While this may seem a preposterous question to ask of someone with so many individual awards, he wouldn’t be the first elite athlete forced to defend himself against a reputation as a playoff letdown.  His personal accolades are well known (NHL ROY, 2 Hart Trophies, 3-time all-star), but he can’t avoid the reality of his team’s playoff finishes.  The past three seasons, Ovechkin has led the Capitals to third, second, and first place finishes in the Eastern Conference regular season.  Yet, they’ve been upset each year, twice in the first round.  While this is a team effort, doesn’t the NHL’s best player bear the brunt of the responsibility?

Take the never-ending comparison of Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, the superstar matchup the NHL loves, for example.  Statistically, Ovie is “better” if you simply look at goals scored and points totals.  But look deeper at their points/game averages, and Sid the Kid is better (he did miss 20+ games in 07-08).  Sid’s been in 2 Cups, winning last year.  Crosby doesn’t have to defend himself because he’s won in the playoffs.  Ovechkin hasn’t. Sure, one could argue that Crosby’s had a great supporting cast, citing Marian Hossa, Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin, not to mention solid goal play by Marc-Andre Fleury.  But that argument loses all merit when looking at what Ovechkin had to work with this year.  Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom were very good this year, and while their goalie play wasn’t fantastic in the playoffs, teams don’t win 54 games by accident.

All of this brings us back to Alexander the Great.  Everyone expects more from their superstar players in the playoffs.  When he showed up to play, the Caps won three games.  But the four losses?  Try one goal and one assist.  That’s not acceptable when the games mean the most.  Washington had a 3-1 series lead, yet let the 8th-seeded Canadiens storm back and take the series, limiting Ovie to 2 pts.  Should he be blamed?

A-Rod's just one superstar who had to face his critics, until he won a championship.

Let’s look at other sports for a comparison.  Alex Rodriguez is one of this generation’s best baseball players.  Before the ’09 playoffs, he had 553 HR and a career .306 average.  Yet he was labeled a choke and overrated by many around the league (Yankee fans included) for his epic playoff failures which included 2 series wins and no pennants in his career.  When he finally performed in the 2009 playoffs, his team won a World Series and the monkey was off his back.  Kobe Bryant ran Shaquille O’Neal from the Lakers following a fruitful pairing that produced three titles in their time together.  Once O’Neal was gone, the pressure was on Bryant to show that he could win on his own.  On his first four years alone, he missed the playoffs, then two first-round losses, and a Finals loss, all while piling up individual awards and achievements.  Still, those didn’t matter until Kobe was able to conquer the Orlando Magic in 2009, to win his first championship as the leader of his team.  Finally, consider Peyton Manning’s reputation before winning Super Bowl XLI.  Two MVP awards, unbelievable statistics, superb regular season finishes, yet in nine career playoff games, Manning only had three wins to show for it.  It wasn’t until his Super Bowl win in 2006 that his status as the best could be cemented.  Those are three superstars who had to endure years of questioning whether they were only fantasy superstars and not playoff heroes, until they finally won big in the postseason.  Why should Ovechkin be immune?


3 Months. Blue Duck

May 7, 2009

I don’t know if its been three months. I was bored.


Rangers Win. Despite Sean Avery

April 23, 2009
King Henrik was the star tonight, but Ovechkin and Avery made it interesting

King Henrik was the star tonight, but Ovechkin and Avery made it interesting

The Rangers beat the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night in one of the better games I’ve seen in a while, in any sport.  The Rangers took a 2-0 lead into the third period, but then Alex Ovechkin turned it on and almost singlehandedly took game 4.  Ovechkin scored 2 minutes into the third, and rang another shot off the crossbar later on.  He played nearly half the game, and had 11 shots on goal.

There were times in this game when one had to wonder how the Rangers were winning.  They were completely dominated, outhustled, and outshot by a margin of 18.  The biggest factor that has made them the winning team in 3 of the series’ first four games is Henrik Lundqvist.  He was brilliant again and survived a few barrages late in the game that would’ve made even the great Martin Brodeur bitch and moan about contact.

The luckiest Ranger tonight, though, is Sean Avery.  Avery had a meager 4 penalty minutes tonight.  He is probably proud.  He restrained himself from acting like a dumbass for a large portion of the game, but waited until the halfway point in the third with the Caps poised to tie the game.  He then pulled an Avery-like move by smacking Milan Jurcina’s schnoz with the butt of his stick and the back of his glove and pretending like he didn’t mean it.

Some might say his reputation got this one called.  I would agree.  He is a douchebag, and he made a douchebag move, the refs called it.  The Rangers survived the powerplay somehow.  Ovechkin hit the crossbar and King Henrik made about 8 saves then Avery came back.  He learned his lesson.  Or did he?

Just 4 minutes after getting his freedom he decides to whack Brian Pothier (who sold this pretty poorly, but it was funny) with a high stick a couple seconds after play had stopped.  He again, tries to sell to the refs that he is innocent, and heads off.  John Tortorella looked like an embarrassed father who lost control of his kid at this point.  Avery sat in the box, and thought about which young celebrity he would go after next (I actually have a lot of respect for him with respect to the top shelf ass he gets).

Luckily, Lundqvist saved him again, and the Rangers got away with a 3-1 advantage in the series.  Maybe there’s a backstory.  Maybe Pothier and Jurcina picked up Avery’s “sloppy seconds” like Dion Phaneuf and Mike Komisarek.  I do not know, but it is difficult to get a penalty called against you in the playoffs, especially late in tight, big games.  Avery managed to pull it off twice with blatant, pussy cheapshots.

Sean showed his true colors tonight.  He is a goon, but not the protect the stars, and fight to pump up you team good goon.  The hit guys behind the play and get a kick out of it goon.  Its a shame, too because up to that point he had done a great job around the net creating chances for New York.  Avery was a liability on the ice by the end of the game, and if the Rangers would have lost, he may have been done there, again.

But don’t worry there’s hope for goons after hockey.  Matthew Barnaby proves it every night on Sportscenter.  The heir apparent to Barry Melrose (whose mullet and salt and pepper facial hair rank him as the most dignified looking gentleman since Robert E. Lee), Barnaby makes it clear that he used to get his head bashed in every time he tries to describe a clip.

No matter how he does on the ice, Sean Avery is doing just fine.

No matter how he does on the ice, Sean Avery is doing just fine.

Avery, who is sort of the David Beckham of hockey (if Beckham went around goosing guys all over the pitch), has got to watch it for the rest of the playoffs.  Everything he does is watched by the refs, and he can no longer get away with his signature cheapshots.  Maybe he doesn’t care about hockey, if you had been linked to Elisha Cuthbert, Mary-Kate Olson, Lake Bell, and Rachel Hunter would you care?  and those are just the celebrities.  Imagine the amount of tail he pulled on random nights throughout Los Angeles, New York, all of Canada.  This man is living the dream.  I would take his sloppy seconds any day.