On Tuesday night, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin had a normal Ovi night: he scored two goals and dangled the puck through a dude’s legs. In a new twist, he also dropped down to his knees in his first period and blocked a shot off his skate.
Ovi skated off the ice gingerly. Two seasons ago, he broke his foot on a similar play.
This made me happy to see.
For years, I’ve always thought Ovechkin has needed to add more focus to his defensive-zone play. I have wanted to see him block more shots, keep his stick on the ice more to take away lanes, and in general help out his teammates more with defensive-zone coverage. Have fewer “fly-bys” as Barry Trotz says it.
As captain of the team, I believe Ovechkin has to do little things like block shots. If he does, it creates a winning culture where his teammates go “If Ovi’s sacrificing his body like this, then I have to too.” If he doesn’t, it gives other players an excuse to stray from Barry Trotz’s game-plan or potentially resent Ovechkin for being treated differently.
My blog brother Peter Hassett has never agreed with me. He spoke about it in his game recap Tuesday night.
Alex Ovechkin came up a bit lame after blocking a shot in the first period. Let’s say you’ve got a really nice Formula One racecar. You spent nearly 10 million dollars on getting that racecar fast. Now don’t use it to lug kegs around. If you put a ding on that thing, you wouldn’t have gotten two goals out of it later in the game, though maybe I’m mixing my metaphors.
Also not agreeing with me: Mike Milbury. Say what? Milbury, who has always been a loud critic of Ovechkin’s lack of a two-way game, praised the Russian machine for the effort during an appearance on NHL Live Wednesday night, but does not think it’s a smart tactic.
Unfortunately there’s no dialogue or video, so I’m going to lean on Puck Daddy’s Jen Lute Costella (@RegressedPDO) for a summary of Milbury’s points.
Tthe broadcast crew, including Mike Milbury, were looking at highlights from recent games. There was a highlight of Ovechkin scoring on the power play, and the next video showed him blocking a shot and limping a little bit. Milbury said that while he knows Ovi is a very tough guy, he’s not so sure he wants to see him blocking shots (being tough) and risking injury before the playoffs get here. He said it did show that Ovi is buying into the team game that Trotz is preaching and he was very glad to see that. Finally, he said it looked like he was playing hard and putting team first which was good because occasionally in the past that has been missing.
The long and short of it is that Milbury likes what he’s seeing from Ovechkin but isn’t so sure that Trotz should be using him as a shot blocker because he’s too valuable to the team to get injured doing something like that.
What do you guys think?
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