Monday, February 12, 2007

Why defense shouldn't always come first

When Tarik ran a story a few weeks back on the team's desire to get Alex Ovechkin to play more (and better) in his defensive end, I warned that it was too soon. And I was right. Since that time, the Russian Machine has improved his two way play, working harder in the defensive end and not trying (as much) to get a jump out of the zone in order to beat the opposing defense. The result? Since January 23rd (the day of the article), the Caps record is 3-6, and their offensive output has fallen off sharply. They've looked listless and, as in the case of the loss to the Rangers, completely impotent in the offensive zone.

How bad has the Caps offense been? So bad that their only goals against New York were caused more by a bad section of boards (video 1, 2) than their offensive play.

The Capitals simply don't have enough depth to have Ovechkin subverting his offensive skills in order to play a better all-around game. The team's offense revolves around him and, to a lesser extent, Sasha Semin creating opportunities with their all-world offensive abilities. The rest of the team is expected to chip in when possible and bang home rebound opportunities created by their young left wingers' shots. As much as I like Captain Clark, it's safe to say he wouldn't have nearly the point total he has without Ovechkin creating for him (and drawing coverage off of him). Ditto for Zubrus, but without the whole me liking him part.

We all know that superstars from all sports sometimes need to conform to a scheme or philosophy that may not put their skills to best use in order to win a championship. But right now, the Capitals are not a championship caliber team (and unfortunately they're not even that close). Asking one of the very few players on the roster capable of lighting the lamp to shackle part of his game was a bad move. The Caps need to remedy the issue by relieving AO of some of his defensive responsibilities, or else the rest of this season is destined to play out just as badly as Saturday's game against New York.

1 comment:

Biff said...

Not to mention that it has denied us any chance of the only thing that would have made the remainder of the season bearable: Watching the Russian Machine chase down Crosby for the Art Ross.