Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Ovie, fans deserve better
Unfortunately for all, events only served to feed into Hunter's sense of his own genius last night when Ovechkin scored the game-winning goal on a third period power play to knock off the Rangers 3-2 in New York, tying their second round series at a game apiece. It was a rewarding end to an otherwise frustrating night for Ovechkin, who played fewer minutes than Matt Hendricks, Jay Beagle, Troy Brouwer, Marcus Johansson and Brooks Laich - all important contributors to the Caps' cause but without a Calder, Hart, Art Ross or Rocket Richard trophy between them, while Ovechkin has a combined total of six.
When he plays with the relatively free reign he was given for most of his first six NHL seasons, Alex Ovechkin is the most exciting player in professional hockey. The fun he has playing the game when he plays it at the level he's capable of makes it that much more fun to watch, but his trademark passion and enthusiasm have all but disappeared under Hunter's thumb, and little wonder. Shackling a player with Ovechkin's offensive instincts and ability is the competitive and marketing equivalent of telling Babe Ruth to bunt, Peyton Manning to run-block or hooking Secretariat up to a plow. It's a massive waste of talent, and a disservice to the fans and the game.
Whatever success the Capitals are enjoying in the playoffs is despite the way Hunter is using his best player, not because of it.