Breakout for Ovi and the Caps on the Horizon?
The year is 2009 and Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin is on top of the world. In the previous season (2007-2008), Ovechkin led the league in goals and points, played in the NHL All-Star game, and won both MVP awards in the NHL (Hart Memorial Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Award). What’s even better? At the end of this season, Ovechkin will once again lead the league in goals, play in the NHL All-Star game, and will win both MVP awards.
In any given game, as soon as Alex Ovechkin touches the puck and begins to skate down the ice, a roar is heard around the Verizon Center. Sitting on the edge of their seats, fans wait anxiously for Ovechkin to work his magic. It’s almost expected that when Ovi has a breakaway, something magnificent is going to happen. Most of the time, it is something out of this world.
After he scores, Ovechkin usually jumps into the glass as part of his wild celebration. Though, it doesn’t matter whether or not he scores or one of his teammates scores, Ovechkin is always the most enthusiastic player on the ice.
Ovechkin plays with a fiery passion and is the leader on the ice because of it. This way of playing is one of the main reasons why he was chosen to be the new captain of the Caps.
Flash forward to the present. Ovechkin is coming off a career low season. After switching to Bauer for all of his hockey gear as well as adopting a new serious team approach, it looks like Ovechkin is ready to have a bounce back season. However, Ovechkin’s name is constantly in the spotlight, and it’s not for the best.
Some say he’s just slow to start out, others say the league has found a way to shut him down, and a few say he’s past his prime.
Now when I see Ovechkin get the puck, rather than sit on the edge of my seat, I wonder to myself whether or not Ovi will have a failed deke, a bad turnover, or maybe a whiffed shot. Frustrated? Yes. Where is the Ovechkin that gets his nose broken and then goes and scores four goals, one of which being the OT game-winner?
Maybe the Ovechkin we’re all looking for is sitting on the bench because his teammates are playing better than he is. But wait, isn’t he supposed to lead the team by his play on the ice? Hmm something doesn’t seem right…or does it?
Now that Boudreau has become strict at holding his players accountable for their actions on and off the ice, Ovechkin, as well as the entire team, is skating on thin ice. The team is older now and silly rookie mistakes won’t be tolerated anymore. It’s time to grow up and mature.
Ovechkin has to elevate his game with every shift, Semin can’t continue to take thoughtless penalties in every game, and Joel Ward…get an alarm clock. If a player is not performing at his best all of the time, he won’t be performing at all come game time because he’ll be in the press box as a healthy scratch. While this might hurt the team at first, it will also make the team stronger as a whole in the long run by teaching players how important it is to be at their best at all times, as well as how important it is to be a team player with everything they do.
Challenges like these are what separates the boys from the men. If Ovi and the Caps are as good as advertised, they’ll find a way to over come this challenge. Sure losing streaks will happen, individual slumps too, but thats all part of the journey. If anything, tough times now just mean that better days are on the horizon.
Expect big things soon.
Ovechkin and the Caps haven’t lost it. The team is just taking the final step into becoming one of the best teams to ever play the game.