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Inconsistent Ovechkin And The Better Conference

Pierre LeBrun of ESPN answers some rant email,

You can change your coach, but until the captain of the team remembers he’s an NHL hockey player and not some trend setting playboy, the discipline problems will remain. For as much talent as the team has, games and Cups are won in the hard work put in during practice, offseason workouts and through being a TEAM, not just playing on one. Parallel Ovechkin and Stamkos. Two great talents, but why is one only improving on his greatness, while the other barely stands out in most games he plays. Just look at their offseason training regimen. The millions these players are paid is not just for the 82-game season plus training camp and playoffs, it’s to maintain the high level and intensity even during offseason workouts.

My take: The leadership has to start with your franchise player and Alex Ovechkin continues to be inconsistent this season. Let me put it to you this way, I asked an NHL scout to rank the following four Russian stars recently, Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuk. And he answered, “Really close between Datsyuk and Malkin, they’re 1a and 1b, then it’s Kovalchuk, and Ovechkin a distant fourth.”

The Western Conference is no longer better than the Eastern Conference. They are practically equal in points per game. Second, the EC teams have allowed well over 100 more goals than the WC teams. I don’t know if that has to do with better goaltending/defense in the WC, or better shooters in the EC, or a combination thereof. I am just tired about hearing that the WC is better/more competitive when they really aren’t this year. Not to mention the Atlantic is the best division in hockey by a good margin, so the Rangers deserve to be No. 1 in the rankings…and I’m a Wings fan.

My take: Totally disagree. There remains more elite teams in the West than the East. To me, the top Cup contenders at this point, in no particular, are Rangers, Red Wings, Sharks, Bruins, Canucks and Blues.
The second level of contenders I would slot are the Predators, Flyers, Penguins and Blackhawks….

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: alex+ovechkin

Comments

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Love the logic that the Eastern Conference is better because they’ve given up more goals.

Posted by Garth on 02/14/12 at 06:05 PM ET

SYF's avatar

RE:  Jackman and Datsyuk.  Typically pathetic B’Lose fan whining mightily to no one in particular.  It’s okay, B’Lose fans.  Don’t let a few little details like player history and real facts get in the way of your ignorance.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 02/14/12 at 06:11 PM ET

Avatar

RE:  Jackman and Datsyuk.

Love the comparison of a head-on hit to the chest and a blindside elbow to the head.

EXACTLY the same hit, obviously!

Posted by Garth on 02/14/12 at 06:35 PM ET

Primis's avatar

I’ve been saying for years now that the West is far and away still better than the East.

Eastern teams are built around Superstars, and in the Cap Era that hamstrings them for organizational depth.  However, that’s what those markets pretty much require.  PIT, NYR, WAS, etc… they have to have Superstars due to their insane media which values that over actual winning even.

In the East, you’ll note that those teams don’t have the same level of superstar players.  Instead they concentrate on depth (because of the much more brutal travel schedule), so forward and d-man corps tend to be deeper in the West.  In the West, you can’t survive the loss of say a Superstar forward, so instead you go with several Star forwards.  There aren’t many teams in the West where you can point to one particular player and say “

OK, if they lost him for a long period of time they’re screwed

“.  Whereas in the East, that’s practically the entire basis of their conference.

BOS without Chara?  Hosed.  WAS without Ovechkin?  Hosed.  PIT without Crosby?  Shadow of themselves.  TB without Stamkos?  Certain lottery team.  BOS admittedly has far more depth than the other two though… though still not built like a West team.

PHI is perhaps the East team most built like a Western one.  They can lose 3 or 4 guys and keep rolling along fairly well.

The one team in the West that builds itself most like the East is probably CGY with Iginla, and honestly that’s part of the reasons CGY keeps gettings their afts handed to them year and year…  they always build with Iginla as key and around him, instead of ever getting actual depth.  That way of building can’t even get you into the playoffs reliably in the West.

However no Eastern team has won the Cup in less than 7 Games since 2000 (when NJ did it in 6), and nobody has done it in less than THAT since 1995 when the Devils swept the Wings.  Every other Eastern Cup winner had to survive a full 7 games.  Even when the East does win the Cup, it suggests they had to outgrind and outlast a Western team that likely had more wear and tear on them due to travel.

Posted by Primis on 02/15/12 at 10:12 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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