Cooper’s got a bad case of teh sadz. (Photo credit: Geoff Burke)
It has be frustrating as an NHL head coach to watch your team self-destruct as an opponent, one of the best players in the world, scores goals seemingly at will.
Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper was in that position on Tuesday– on the other side of one of Alex Ovechkin‘s very best games.
With a calm demeanor, Cooper stood in the bowels of Verizon Center afterwards and explained to the media what his players did wrong.
Let’s face it, you can’t leave number eight in an area… (trails off) [Ovechkin] didn’t even have to work for his goals. Didn’t work. He didn’t move on his first [goal]. He didn’t move on the last two. At all.
If you’re going to let that guy take shots. Welp, sometimes that’s gonna happen. That’s the disappointing part. We know where he is. We know what he can do. We just didn’t have a stick on him. We weren’t in a lane. That’s the troubling part.
Other than that, I thought we played really well.
When asked who or what was to blame, Cooper was still at a loss.
I don’t know. There’s young guys, old guys, everybody’s on the ice when he was scoring his goals. I wouldn’t say it’s a young thing; I would say it’s a dumb thing. That’s pretty much what it was.
Ovechkin’s performance tonight reminded me of a game I watched live 17 years ago. It’s referred to know as The Flu Game.
The story goes like this: NBA hall of famer Michael Jordan was sick before game five of the 1997 NBA Finals. The series between the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz was tied at two. Despite being hooked up to an IV before the game, Jordan played. He dominated. He scored 38 points. He could not be stopped. Everything the Jazz did failed. Perhaps fueled by the impossibleness of the situation, Jordan dug deep. He just wanted to win that much more.
Ovechkin was the same way on Tuesday. Confronted with a 3-0 deficit and seemingly impossible odds, Ovi turned in a rare four-goal performance.
During the last minute of play, I had this sense of certainty that the Caps would tie it. When Ovechkin’s fourth goal happened, the rules of physics didn’t seem to apply. I’m still not sure how it went into the net.
Jon Cooper thinks his players could have covered Ovechkin better or caused more havoc in his lanes, but I really don’t think that would have made a difference.
Ovechkin was going to score a bunch of goals, and the Capitals were going to win. Ovi simply decided it would be.
Great players can do things like that.