Suffice it to say, last season’s MVP and scoring champion isn’t the best player in the NHL at the moment. What’s even more shocking, though, is he’s not even the best player on his team. Even more stunning is the fact he’s not even the best Alex on his team.
Offensively, Alex Ovechkin has struggled mightily this season. But there is nary a hint he’s doing anything differently than last season, when he scored 65 goals and was the best player in the league.
When asked to pinpoint why Ovechkin has struggled, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said, “I wish I knew. That’s what we’re trying to do right now. He’s doing all the good things, making things happen offensively, hitting, playing good defense and checking. The same thing happened at one point last March and he played his way through it.”
Take Thursday night’s game, for example. Ovechkin had more than 24 minutes in ice time and led both teams with seven shots, but had nothing to show for his efforts. Going into Friday night’s games, Ovechkin leads the NHL with 37 shots and is averaging 5.3 shots per game. Clearly, he’s going to the areas of the ice he needs to be to score.
And while it has been well-documented Ovechkin loves to enjoy life away from the rink, there’s nothing to suggest he has gotten caught up in being a superstar. He’s still as focused a player as ever, but has just two goals and four points. He absolutely needs to do more for the Capitals to be a contending team this season. (While they’re at it, they might want to get a little more out of second-year man Nicklas Backstrom, too.)
Here’s a thought. Ovechkin is undoubtedly the most physical elite player in the NHL. Perhaps he is too focused on playing a rugged game and is looking for the big hit too much. With 22 hits in seven games thus far, Ovechkin is on pace for 258, which would be the fourth-highest total among forwards since the NHL began tracking hit totals.
“I think that’s just him trying too hard,” Boudreau said. “Right now he’s trying to do everything. I think he’s trying so hard to make things happen that he’s over trying.”
Chris Pronger thinks he gets a rough ride from fans in Edmonton? Daniel Briere gets booed every time he touches the puck in Montreal?
Get over it, boys, and thank your lucky stars you’re not 34-year-old defenseman Jan Huokko of Leksands in Sweden’s first division.
In a game Tuesday night between Leksands and AIK Stockholm, AIK fans littered the ice with sex toys to remind Huokko of a sex scandal he was involved in earlier this year.
Apparently, Huokko taped a sex act on his mobile phone (Why do people do that? Anyone? Anyone?), which ended up on the Internet shortly after his telephone was stolen.
AIK’s unofficial fan website instructed fans to bring sex toys to the game and throw them on the ice. Everyone involved – including Huokko – brushed off the incident and it inspired what might develop as the quote of the season.
“We’d also heard mention of it,” said AIK GM Mats Hedenstrom, “but we decided that it would only be worse if we went out and told the fans they were absolutely not allowed to throw dildos on the ice.”
For just the second time in NHL history, all 30 teams will play on the same day when the NHL holds 15 games Saturday night.
Among the more interesting games: Dan Boyle returns to Tampa Bay for the first time as a member of the San Jose Sharks; the Battle of Ontario gets its first installment as the struggling Ottawa Senators travel to Toronto; and Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin make their first visit of the season to Broadway when the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the New York Rangers.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.