Here's an excerpt on Ovechkin from Thomas Boswell online chat via Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog)...
THOMAS BOSWELL, the Washington Post:
The Caps aren't a very talented team any more, so they have to get close to 100% production and mistake-free play from the players they have or they are what you've seen so far __not even a playoiff team. They used to be thrilling to watch. I watched the tape of the Ranger game over again and, on far too many shifts, they just looked like a bunch of donkeys on skates. They're not a physical team but they're no longer a high-skill team either. What are they? A 10-13-1 team that could be somewhat better __but nothing special, imo__ if they learn Oates system and eventually play as a unit.
Semin is gone. Green will, presumably, never be Green again. Laich has been out all season. Ovechkin has been a shadow of himself for a long time and now he just seems lost on the ice; he's only had three (3!) even-strength goals all year. Over the weekend, he was as responsible for the two three-goal defeats as much as anyone. He made mental mistakes or took foolish gambles in the neutral zone and his TWO penalties within 20 seconds turned Sunday's game from 1-1 to 3-1 in a blink. Just isolate on Ovechkin and watch the game through him. The game used to "come to him." Or maybe he was so fast and decisive that he went to it. Now, it seems to go away from him. And he seems confused. How much of that is paralysis from too many new systems to learn? How much of it is getting-old-fast because his body must be 80 in hockey years? How much of it is less talented players around him?
We're very close to needing a whole new set of seriously-lowered expectations for the Caps. Hope they convince me otherwise. I have no idea what you do for/with Ovechkin. You can't trade that contract. If you take away the "C" you have undercut the face of the franchise. Somehow, you have to support him and find out how he should play at THIS point in his career.
Oh, by the way, Ovechkin is -11 on +/- for the last TWO years combined! Also, in the first 339 games of his career, he scored 228 even-strength goals and 111 on the PP. This year, it's 3 even-strength and 6 on PP. They sure have picked up his patterns.
I thought Ovechkin actually looked very sad at the end of Sunday's game, really concerned. I think he cares (usually). It would be better if he DIDN'T care. Then there might be an easy fix. The bad news might be: This is what he is now.
If things go like this, Ovechkin might not be on the team Russia's roster at Sochi Olympics. I think last time he was on the FOURTH line. This time he might not even make the fourth line. Sad.
But he will carry the torch, obviously.
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