Every Saturday night, Hockey Night In Canada’s Ron MacLean does his best to steer crazy old man Don Cherry though Coach’s Corner without incident. While MacLean doesn’t have much time to share his opinions during those segments, he had a whole bunch of time on Thursday when speaking to Rob Pizzo and Cassie Campbell on HNIC Radio.
MacLean spent most of his fourteen minutes talking about the firing of Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster, but with Alex Ovechkin‘s magical four-goal game in the recent past, MacLean had to share his feelings about the reigning MVP. Maybe you’d think with Ovechkin scoring 26 goals in 29 games, changing positions, and completely reinvigorating his game, MacLean would appreciate Ovechkin’s progress as a player.
You would be wrong.
The Ovechkin discussion starts at 12:18.
Pizzo: Four goals Tuesday night for Alex Ovechkin. He now has 26 in 29 games. I’ve said this before on the show, I don’t remember somebody being so good and having such a high, disappearing and then almost reaching those highs again. How close do you think this Alexander Ovechkin is to the other ones that won MVP?
MacLean: I don’t think he is as good. I’ll tell you what I think is a problem here. He’s minus-ten I think. He’s got nine assists. He’s not producing goals other than his own. Their team is not… they might miss the playoffs. You know, Steve Yzerman was a 60-goal guy. It was fun to watch, but it wasn’t winning hockey.
When Yzerman committed to a two-way game — like Dale Hunter tried to instill a little bit and even Boudreau — that’s when you’re a hockey team. To me, this 26 goals is a specialty act. And I hate to diminish it, it’s a hell of an act, but [he's] not the complete hockey player you want. That’s why I’m not as excited or titillated by Ovechkin suddenly hitting the 26-goal column. I would be concerned if I were Adam Oates. It was a 6-5 game. They were lucky to win it. You gotta really watch that. Don’t just go for the goals.
Plus-minus, eh? I’m just gonna leave this right here.
I don’t know if this is the Vast Canadian Conspiracy against Ovechkin or what, but this is absurd. Ovechkin is twice the player he was during the Hunter era. He is putting more shots on net than anyone in decades (except him) and winning games single-handed. But because his blue line is young and his linemates are unlucky at 5v5, he’s a plug?
Ovi might be playing the best hockey of his career right now. Even a non-Caps fan can appreciate that. And yet, some folks would need him to score an Ovechtrick, pitch a shutout, and then cram down some Tim Hortons before they’re satisfied.
Full disclosure: I wasn’t gonna post this, but then MacLean said “titillated” and I had to. I am a child.
Thanks to @nogoodtrying138 for the audio and the heads up.
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