Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Couple More Thoughts On Last Night's Loss To Toronto

This could be titled "Another Reason To 'Love' Alexander Ovechkin As A Hockey Player."

Following last night's game in Toronto Alexander Ovechkin, the lone goal scorer on the Capitals team was reportedly interviewed and quoted as saying: "We didn't move our legs [including] me," he said. "I'm not happy how I play today. I'm not happy how my line play today. We score one goal, but we have to score more. We have more ice time than everybody, so we have to use it. We had a couple of chances on the power play, we don't score." It's nice to see a team's star taking responsibility for a loss, especially when it's clear he's still on the mend and he didn't have a bad night though he clearly could have had a better one. "The Great Eight's" stat line for last night was: 1 goal, +1, total ice time 26:38, average shift 01:09, 6 shots on goal, 4 attempts blocked, 2 missed, 1 hit, 1 giveaway, 1 takeaway, 1 shot blocked. Comparatively relative to the rest of his teammates he looked pretty good. However, as he's clearly willing to admit he's not comparing himself to most other players in the NHL and he and his top line teammates are getting more ice time and chances to do more and it's okay for all of us including himself to expect more. That's why he is no doubt one of the best, if not, THE best hockey player in the world today. You just gotta love it though that a highly paid athlete isn't looking for any excuses, he's just looking inward and at his teammates and saying hey guys, it's "showtime", it's "Take No Prisoners Time." That's the way he plays the game and that's why no matter whether you think he's merely one of the best or THE best, he'll always be great to watch.

On a separate note, another person noted that the Caps record with Semin out hasn't been too hot - by my count it's 1-1-1 and if you add New Jersey, a game when Semin was clearly playing hurt it's 1-2-1. Just a thought but maybe someone besides me ought to realize that despite his frequently pointed out "streakiness, etc., the other Alex takes pressure off of "The Great Eight" even when he's not on the ice that gives Ovechkin some time and space. Of course you could also look at the Caps record over the same time frame and say the missing key ingredient was Mike Knuble as well. I'd say you're right on both counts. With Knuble and Semin in the lineup - Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Laich are given more space. With them in the lineup a team's better shutdown guy can't spend ALL night focusing on Ovechkin.

One thing folks can't point to as an issue these past four games has been goaltending - that was again true last night, Varlamov, like Neuvirth on Friday night, deserved better. Even though you might point to the 5-2 loss to New Jersey and say they might have gotten a better game there out of Jose Theodore, I still don't think the real issue there was goaltending, there were other missing key ingredients and missteps that were more likely the root causes that resulted in that loss.

Here's hoping the Caps use today and tomorrow morning's skate to get things like lines and defensive pairings sorted out. A few of the combinations last night just didn't work too well as the team and coaching stuff sorted them out during the game.

Next up the Ottawa Senators in Ottawa, Monday at 7:30PM EST.


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