All things considered, Alex Ovechkin had a quiet night on Tuesday. But, at this point, a quiet night for Alex Ovechkin means a goal to clinch a division championship, a crucial assist, and one literally earth-shattering hit. Verizon Center serenaded Ovechkin to “MVP” chants and signs, cheering him on in his comeback season. It was a perfect night.
Capitals rookie defenseman Steve Oleksy is pretty tough customer too. Midway through the third period of Sunday’s game, as Giroux tried to glove the puck, Oleksy delivered a big, clean, open-ice hit on the Flyers captain.
We’re always talking about what’s wrong with Alex Ovechkin (see Milbury, Mike). But for once why don’t we discuss some of the stuff that’s going right with the guy? For starters: the buzzcut.
Ovi was the best player on the ice during Thursday’s must-win game (whatever that means) against the Winnipeg Jets. The Russian machine scored a clutch third period power play goal, assisted on two other Caps tallies, and had the most inspiring shift of the game — wherein he walloped both Bryan Little and Mark Stuart with big hits — all in Washington’s 4-0 shutout win over Winnipeg.
Steve Oleksy is quickly becoming a fan favorite here in DC. In his first game with the Caps, the 27-year-old defenseman scored his first NHL point with a secondary assist on a Mike Ribeiro goal. He also had a huge first period hit on Shawn Thornton. On Thursday night against the Panthers, Oleksy showed he can get fancy with his hits too, hip-checking Mike Santorelli hard into the boards.
While the Washington Capitals got outplayed in the first period of Saturday’s game against the Jets, they came out strong in the second , scoring some goals and getting a little cocky. I love it when my favorite team gets cocky. Particularly because it can lead to a line brawl, one started by five-foot, ten-inch (yeah right) French Canadian Mathieu Perreault.*
After absorbing a legal shoulder-check from tough guy defenseman Zach Bogosian, Perry decided to get a lil’ saucy and slash Bogosian in the legs. Bad idea.
Last season with the Winnipeg Jets, Eric Fehrhad a disaster season. Still feeling the effects of shoulder surgery, the big six-foot four-inch winger had two goals in 35 games. Winnipeg did not offer him a contract to come back.
Almost four years ago to the day, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby — at the height of their rivalry — nearly fought at the Capitals bench. After Ovechkin bumped Crosby on his way to a shift change, Sid shoved him in the back. The two exchanged pleasantries until Ovi ended the conversation by ripping Crosby’s helmet off. Between their heated races for the Calder and Maurice Richard trophies, it was the first time the two showed anger towards each other on the ice. It was glorious.
The rivalry has cooled since then. Ovechkin’s goal scoring has slowed with age. Crosby has dealt with injury.
But on Sunday, while the Penguins blew out the Capitals 6-3 and Crosby edged Ovechkin 3-1 in points, the Russian machine established dominance in his own way: checking Crosby into the net.
That doesn’t mean Ovechkin hasn’t had his chances — especially in Oates’ 1-3-1 powerplay. After their game against New Jersey on Friday, Mike Green lamented to CSN sideline reporter Al Koken,”I missed [Ovi] on a pass that was about four or five inches out of his wheelhouse.” On Sunday, Green found Ovi with a beautiful cross-ice pass to give the Russian machine his first goal on the season. It would end up being the game-winner.