from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,
... And yet, there is always something with The Great 8, some little piece of total reverence that is withheld when a coach or a teammate or an opponent speaks of him, as if unconditional praise would be not entirely honest because ... why?
Because he scores a lot on the power play, and 5-on-5 he's not as dominant? Or because of that career nadir he hit in 2010-11 and 2011-12, when his merely mortal numbers (32 and 38 goals, respectively) -- with a Russian train wreck at the Vancouver Olympics thrown -- had the whole world on his case about bacchanalian excesses and lifestyle and lack of team success, and general ... well, Russian-ness?
Or because Ovechkin beat out the North American darling, Sidney Crosby, for the Hart Trophy (his third) last spring, when he seemed to single-handedly lift Washington into the playoffs with a ridiculous 22 goals in the team's last 21 games -- leading some to wonder where he'd been hiding for the first half of the season when the Caps could have used him?
Whatever it is, the tenor of the conversation Monday was ever-so slightly restrained, even as Ovechkin entered the game on an other-worldly 32-goals-in-32-games regular season streak (10-in-11 this term) -- the sort of numbers no other NHL player had reached since Pavel Bure did it (also spanning parts of two seasons) in Florida, 12 years ago.