Alex Ovechkin leads the Washington Capitals in goals this season. But in a new twist, Ovechkin also leads the team in PIMs (22) and minor penalties (11).
Over the weekend, Barry Trotz expressed concern about how much his captain was spending in the penalty box after accumulating two minor penalties against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Monday night, Ovechkin committed his sixth minor penalty in five games. Barry Trotz went nuclear during his postgame press conference.
“Unacceptable,” Trotz said.
“He’s a leader,” Trotz continued. “He can’t take those penalties. He’s got to be on the right side. I’m going to address it harshly with him tomorrow.”
But is there much to address with the future Hall of Famer? I GIF’d Ovechkin’s last six penalties and while some of them are lazy stick fouls, others could be classified as bad calls or just flat out bad luck.
During last night’s game against the Sabres, CSN showed us this highlight, telling us that the penalty Ovechkin took was a weak one. In actuality, Ovechkin was very deserving. The penalty happened seconds before as he marked Foligno in the offensive zone. Ovechkin whacks Foligno twice, like he’s a pinata full of delicious candy. Ovechkin was whistled for slashing.
Ian’s take: No brainer.
Ah! The infamous Tampa game. Ovechkin’s first folly happened as he got tripped bringing the puck into the offensive zone. As he reaches to regain possession of the puck, Hedman trips over Ovechkin’s stick.
Ian’s take: Bad luck
Meet Ovechkin’s new defensive tactic: slashing the bejeezus out of player wide open in the slot. This penalty was Ovechkin’s second minor of the night in Tampa and it’s a penalty 100 times out of 100. The Lightning would score on the resulting power play.
Ian’s take: Ovi, stop doing this
Two nights earlier, Ovechkin accumulated two more minor penalties. The first came when Ovechkin put his stick into Calvin de Haan’s gut 3:49 into the first period as the Islanders raced the puck up the ice. That’s a textbook interference call.
Ian’s take: Lazy!
This is almost the same exact slashing penalty Ovechkin took in Tampa. Josh Bailey is wide open in the slot and Ovechkin whacks him in the arm. The slash would break Bailey’s stick. The play might have saved a goal, but I would love to see tighter defense here.
Ian’s take: Kinda dumb/kinda necessary
And this is how you take a bad penalty off a face off.
Ian’s take: Dumb
In closing, I’m not particularly worried about this odd penalty party Alex Ovechkin is throwing. The numbers look bad, but the tape is more forgiving. Ovi needs to keep his legs moving and rely more on better body position to defend players. He also needs to be more careful with his stick. Six of Ovechkin’s 11 minor penalties this season are slashes, suggesting refs may be keeping a closer eye on him than usual during games.
But with a few subtle changes, Ovechkin will be over this habit, and maybe he start drawing penalties on other players again.
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