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Team Comes First

Last night, Mike Milbury had some not-so-nice things to say about Ovechkin.  While I personally think Milbury typically talks down about Ovechkin, this was different.  I usually end up zoning out half-way through because it’s usually the same old shtick that gets old after two or three hundred times.  I felt a little different listening to him this time.  It wasn’t a sense of agreement (though I’m not saying he was wrong).  It was a sense of total embarrassment.

Over the past two seasons, I’ve always been the optimist with Ovechkin.  I was a firm believer that he would eventually rediscover his goal-scoring ways and would be back in the hunt for the Richard.  I guess in a lot of ways, I still think it will happen.  Yet, this was not why I was embarrassed listening to Milbury tear Ovechkin apart.  It’s quite simply because the guy being made the fool was a member of the Washington Capitals.

That’s the thing that often gets lost in the Ovechkin debates.  We all like to talk about whether he will ever reach 50 or 60 goals again; whether teams still have a specific game plan for stopping him.  But in the end, his actions reflect equally the name of the front of the jersey as they do the one on the back.  When Ovechkin embellishes like he did last night, he makes the Caps look just as bad as he does.  This is the supposed Captain of the team.  His success is our success, and his failures, our failures.

When a team signs you to a 13-year, $124 million deal, they are essentially saying “We think you are one of the best players in the world.  We believe that by having you on our team, we have a much greater chance of success.”  That’s the catch.  It’s not that our system will benefit you.  It’s that you will be of benefit to our team.  Now, obviously systems are made to allow superstars to do their thing, but they should not be tailored to helping a guy rediscover his scoring touch.  I don’t see how the powerplay is geared towards much else but Ovechkin (like Milbury points out).

And that’s where some of the blame must be shared by the team.  Once they set-up with the extra man, it’s the same old thing.  They pass it around on one side waiting for that lane to open up for Ovechkin’s patented one-timer.  No offense to Mr. Milbury, but if he sees it, chances are 29 teams are seeing it too.

When it comes down to it, the Cap’s front office cannot let one man, even Alexander Ovechkin, become bigger than the team.

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Chet's avatar

so is this about milbury’s rant or the caps’ pp?

most of the clips they showed during his comments backed up what he was saying. i haven’t been much of a fan of ovechkin’s for his career precisely because he floats, cherry picks, and gives up on his team at the worst times. it’s no wonder he’s never won anything but individual scoring titles and awards.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 02/28/13 at 02:40 PM ET

Matthew Tate's avatar

Mainly Milbury.  The PP got thrown in because he brought it up.  And because its the biggest place where the team shares some blame.

Ovechkin seems to be placing him above the team.  And, at least when it comes to the powerplay, the team seems to be doing the same thing.

Posted by Matthew Tate on 02/28/13 at 02:52 PM ET

Chet's avatar

seems like a lot of teams put their snipers on the halfboards during the PP, so what’s wrong with that? if teams cheat toward ovechkin on the PK because of his off-wing 1-timer, shouldn’t someone else on the PP be opened up a bit? isn’t that partially why you have a weapon like him lingering in that circle?

milbury showed but one example of hundreds of him on the PP, and in this one ovechkin isn’t moving much and/or maybe isn’t making himself available enough.

but: the puck was across the ice and it’d have been pretty stupid to try to get it to him, at least in that example. i don’t watch enough of the caps’ PP to know if he always stands so still, but in that clip one of his teammates just turns the puck over in the opposite corner for a philly clear.

to milbury, i’d ask: what’s ovechkin supposed to be doing instead of watching the puck move in the far corner, and if somehow had miraclulously gotten to him, couldn’t he still have gotten a shot away?

other than that, milbury’s points about his effort level are pretty legit, and that embellishment was as embarrassing as euro soccer.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 02/28/13 at 03:09 PM ET

Matthew Tate's avatar

I personally love his one-timers on the half boards.  I hated when they moved him to the point.  But I don’t like when a player parks over there and is only looking for the one-timer.  Stamkos is a perfect example of a guy who does most of his damage on the PP from half-boards, but he doesn’t spend the whole 2:00 within a 5-foot radius.  We see him finish the play at the halfboard but tends to move all over.

When I look at powerplays that scare me, it’s because at any point all 5 players could shoot.  The Caps don’t do that.  At times, they are content putting 4 guys out there just to work the puck to Ovechkin.  Really, that’s a-whole-nother post.

But yeah, that embellishment.  I don’t know if I have seen a worse one in the NHL.  How he didn’t end up in the box is beyond me. 

Also loved how Ovechkin came out calling the hit on Perreault dirty while Adam Oates sees nothing wrong with it.

Posted by Matthew Tate on 02/28/13 at 03:18 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

Stamkos is a perfect example of a guy who does most of his damage on the PP from half-boards, but he doesn’t spend the whole 2:00 within a 5-foot radius.

Precisely.  Stamkos has a team-first mentality, and also understands how to play defense - two things Ovie seems to not care too much for.

Posted by TreKronor on 02/28/13 at 04:27 PM ET

DrewBehr's avatar

I’d listen to Milbury more if he didn’t try to “Don Cherry” his statements.

He gives Ovie sh*t for embellishing a call (that should’ve made regardless) but then, after doing so, grabs and crumples up his paper in “frustration.” What Mike, are you Ovie’s godfather? Have you been personally trying to change his behavior for years?

Go back to abusing people at youth games. I swear, can NBC find any commentators who AREN’T biased, over-opinionated douches?

Posted by DrewBehr from The Mitten on 03/01/13 at 12:13 AM ET

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Welcome to the home of the F Street Faithful, run by Matthew Tate.  This is a go-to blog for all things related to the Washington Capitals.  The F Street Faithful is 5% news and 95% breaking down the news.

In the past I have written for several other sports blogs as well as the college newspaper while at  York College of Pennsylvania.  I am a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania but am based out of Southern Maryland. 

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