Alex Ovechkin has just about every part of his game pulled apart and scrutinized this season, from his leadership to his ice time to his physicality. His attitude has perhaps been criticized more than anything else– arguably with the least amount of basis, but Ovechkin has developed a reputation for not being a “team-first” player.
Dale Hunter’s new defensively-oriented system would not seem to be a great deal of fun for a player with his style and skillset, but to the surprise of some, Ovechkin has been a perfect soldier when questioned about what he thinks of it. “You have to suck it up and use time what Dale is giving to me,” Ovechkin said, in response to questions about his dwindling ice time. “It’s most important thing right now, guys, just win the series and win the game.”
We’ve seen the proof of commitment from every player on the roster, shot-blocking and sacrifice even from Ovechkin’s much-maligned countryman Alex Semin. On Monday night, it was Alex Ovechkin backchecking and going down to shot block without a moment of hesitation. The Caps’ captain took six shifts in the third period, and was not on ice for the last second game-tying goal.
Now that’s a buy-in.