April 10, 2013

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Alexander Ovechkin Is Back To Being A Star

By: Matt Bowen

The Washington Capitals were expected to win a handful of Stanley Cups not too long ago. Led by Alexander Ovechkin, the team was winning and had a plethora of young talent. A fortuitous future was in store for the franchise.

Ovechkin is currently tied for the league lead in goals (26).

The organization signed Ovechkin to an 8-year, $124 million deal in 2008, which was the largest in NHL history at the time. As we all know, money neither buys happiness nor championships.

Now, some five years later the franchise is Cupless and until recently, the fan base was scratching their collective head. The once solid core of talent that filled the Caps roster was either traded away or plagued by injury. Their star seemed to nearly disappear in recent years. Until recently, it was as if Ovechkin forgot how to score.

He took the NHL by storm as a rookie in 2005-06. He netted 52 goals and finished with 106 points and took home the Calder Memorial Trophy for Rookie of the Year honors. Remember, that season was also the debut of Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby, who was dubbed “The Next One”, drawing comparison to “The Great One”, Wayne Gretzky. Ovechkin quickly won fans over as the “other” great player of his class.

He followed up his rookie campaign with 46, 65, 56, and 50 goals in his first five seasons. That’s 269 goals in five years. Holy cow!

Then, a surprising regression occurred. He scored 32 goals in 2010-11 and 38 in 2011-12. While most teams would be happy with that output from their top player, “Ovi” was put on a higher pedestal. He only produced 65 total points last season, and thoughts begin to swirl that something was wrong with the star.

Even with all the previous success that Ovi has had, the Capitals have yet to make an impact in the playoffs. They have not reached the Stanley Cup Finals with Ovechkin as their leader. With the dip on the scoring sheet in 2011-12, many pundits began to wonder if he was the answer in Washington. They wondered if he was a “winner.”

The organization stood by their man and lately, he’s making them look good. The team is currently leading the Southeast Division and is currently third in the Eastern Conference.  Yes, their division is rather weak, but someone has to be king of the mountain and right now, it’s the Capitals.

Most importantly, “Ovi” is back to being a star. He can score in bunches and he’s doing just that this season. His 26 goals are currently tied for tops in the league with Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Ovechkin looks like he’s having fun again. It’s like he remembers that he can dominate. That he’s Alexander Ovechkin and others aren’t on the same level that he is. He hasn’t gone back-to-back games without a point in nearly a month. He’s lethal on the power play—his 14 goals with the extra man are five better than the next man, John Taveras of the New York Islanders. The Capitals capitalize on the power play around 25 percent of the time, which is tops in the NHL. He’s scored 16 goals since March 17th.

The Capitals were considered an afterthought in early February, now they are the most dangerous team in the league. Hockey enthusiast will remember that the Los Angeles Kings were in a similar situation last season before they squeaked their way into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed. All they did was win the Stanley Cup.

Don’t be shocked when the Capitals catch fire and go all the way this season. “Ovi” will be the first one to hoist the Cup as he silences the critics.

Quoting the man himself, “It’s good to be Ovi.”

December 3, 2008

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The NHL: No Longer a Canada Thing?

By: realbigfathead

By Shawn Lucas

I was very surprised this week when reading a small article in “The Hockey News.”
Being a lifelong hockey fan, I was completely shocked when reading the names of the top ten active leaders in career points – not so much by the names as  their nationalities….

The NHL has traditionally been dominated by Canadians.  In 2007-08, more than half (52%) of all NHL players were from Canada.  The top ranks of the NHL, though still full of Canadians, is no longer a league dominated by players from The Great White North.

Today’s domination comes from stars such as Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin, Washington’s Alex tandem of Semin and Ovechkin and who can overlook what has been the strongest team of the last decade, the Detroit Red Wings, whose team boasts the likes of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Marian Hossa and the league’s best defenseman in Nicklas Lidstrom?

The future of hockey definitely looks bright on the global stafe.  On the list of active NHL leaders in career points, there are only 3 Canadians – while the USA is represented 4 times, the most of any country on the list.  There are a few developments that could re-define the list this year.

If Brendan Shanahan, 1340 (CAN) or Mats Sundin, 1321 (SWE) can catch on with a team, then each would bump someone off the list.  As they are not currently active, here is the list of active players and their respective nationalities

1.    Joe Sakic, Colorado Avalanche, 1641 (CAN)
2.    Mark Recchi, Tampa Bay Lightning, 1393 (CAN)
3.    Mike Modano, Dallas Stars, 1294 (USA)
4.    Jeremy Roenick, San Jose Sharks, 1207 (USA)
5.    Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks, 1176, (FIN)
6.    Sergei Fedorov, Washington Capitals, 1155, (RUS)
7.    Rod Brind’Amour, Carolina Hurricanes, 1127 (CAN)
8.    Keith Tkachuk, St. Louis Blues, 996 (USA)
9.    Doug Weight, N.Y. Islanders, 985 (USA)
10.    Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings, 950 (SWE)