Saturday, December 16, 2006

In the end, there can be only one.

Wow. I mean WOW. A dominating performance by Ovechkin. A goal to get the Caps out in front early, a goal to send the game into overtime with under a minute left, and a goal second into overtime to win it. You think maybe Ovie was a teency weency bit fired up for this game? Just an incredible performance. The kind that makes you think that as long as we have this kid playing for the Caps, a championship is more a matter of when than if.

We believe the reason for Ovechkin's domination of the game came from 2 sources. One, you already know about (and again, if you've been stationed in Antarctica for the last few months, click here). The other, surprisingly, was Ilya Kovalchuk. In the first, Kovalchuk seemed intent on making an impact in this game, and I do mean IMPACT. I don't ever think I've seen him throw so many big body checks in one period. It seemed Kovalchuk was trying to show Ovie that HE was the best Russian in the NHL.

Bad move.

Ovechkin thrives on competition. Feeds off of it the same way Popeye feeds off of spinach. It makes him skate faster, hit harder, and grow incredibly enlarged forearms. Okay, maybe not that last one. His drive to be the best has been documented all over the place, most noticeably in the post's recent feature article. And here was Kovalchuk, running around like he was the biggest, baddest guy around. Like he was the one deserving of all the fanfare. Like he was the best player on the ice. And he ended up stepping on The Russian Machine's toes.

Very bad move. Ovechkin made him pay for his transgression. He made them all pay.

Other observations on the game: Dainus Zubrus has officially come into his own. As a Caps fan over the years, I've always been critical of Zubrus. I didn't like the trade we made to get him (I was big on Zednik and Bulis' upside). I thought Zednik would be a star 2nd liner (and turned into one in Montreal, right up until he was nearly decapitated in the playoffs by a Kyle McLaren cheap shot in Montreal's series against Boston a few years back). I didn't think Zubrus would ever play with a physical edge or develop the intensity needed to be a star at the NHL level.

Well, Dainus, my apologies. I promise to limit my suggestion that you hit opposing players with your purse to twice a game.

This season, Zubrus has consistently won physical battles, made solid defensive plays, and is making stellar set up passes, like the 2 assists he had last night. His talent makes the first line a formidable presence. And his newfound willingness to bang around makes the first line not just a scoring line, but a line that beats other teams up. Clark, Ovechkin and Zubrus don't just want to score when they're out there. They want your lunch money too. And they're not going to stop pounding you until they get it.

Now you're going to have to forgive me for being grumpy here and pointing out that Zubrus is also in a contract year. Hey, it's in the name of the blog folks. Just can't help myself.

Let's turn focus now to the ridiculous nature of some of the penalties last night. The referees in Atlanta had NO SPINE. NONE. The ridiculous no call on the goaltender interference on Atlanta's washed out goal was just that. Ridiculous. Ditto the Semin diving minor. Forgive him for not being able to stay on his feet while being suplexed by Coburn. As my brother put it, "that was a reputation call, plain and simple." And reputation calls are made by referees that aren't good enough to keep up with the game. Kudos to Semin for not loosing his cool, or letting the rough stuff affect his game. Though he didn't score, he was a force on the ice, and Atlanta had to account for him.

Next game is tonight, 7PM against the Flyers. Regrettably, I won't be able to attend, but I'll have the TiVo spun up (and my brother will be watching with his one year old from the comfort of his couch) so I should have something on the game posted Sunday.

1 comment:

nacho30 said...

u can i talk to alexander ovechkin before i die plz plz!?
ill be in better place nach30