In our instant analysis-crazed society, it seems like people just cannot help but make a hasty, sweeping judgment about almost anything. At one point, Alex Ovechkin was the superhuman, unquestioned best player in hockey according to many experts. Yet after a medal-free Olympics run and a first round defeat few saw coming, there are probably plenty of people who think they have “the book” on the Russian star.
All I can offer is this fact: he’s only 24 years old.
Ovechkin understands and acknowledges the criticism he’s getting from many circles, though. Here’s a few choice quotes from a Puck Daddy story.
“It’s fair. It was my fault when we need to score goals. I have the chance to score goals and I don’t score goals. Sometimes you just have to take the moment in your hand.
“It’s pretty hard when you see how we fight, how we played. We had a chance and we didn’t score. If you have a chance to score goals and you don’t score, you just feel … Jesus … like, ‘OK, next time you’re going to score.’ The pressure goes to your mind. It’s pretty hard.”
Ovechkin is the Capitals best player and captain, so he must grow accustomed to being thrown under the bus. He has plenty of gas left in the tank, obviously (at his pace will he play for 15 years or maybe 10 years longer?). Washington went into this year’s playoffs with a swagger you need to be great, but hopefully they learned something from this humbling loss.
Ovechkin’s at least saying the right things.
‘He doesn’t seem to get rattled’: Blues officially name Alex Pietrangelo team captain
Selected fourth overall in 2008, Pietrangelo has played 459 games for the Blues, with 51 goals and 255 points in that span. He takes over the ‘C’ from David Backes, who signed with the Boston Bruins as a free agent this summer, following the Blues’ run to the Western Conference Final.
“Watching him perform when the game is on the line, he doesn’t seem to get rattled,” said Blues GM Doug Armstrong of Pietrangelo, as per the club’s website.
“As the captain, you have to answer questions, the tough questions when games are over. I really like his personality, his demeanor to his teammates, to the coaching staff and to the media. He’s someone that has the respect of everyone.”
In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at the end of July, Pietrangelo praised Backes for the impact he had on the young defenseman as he was developing with the Blues.
“I think being so close with Dave over the five years he was captain, I’ve learned a lot from him just kind of sitting back and seeing how he operates on a daily basis,” said Pietrangelo.
“Not only on the ice but off the ice, which is a big part of it trying to keep the locker room together and doing the off-ice stuff.”
Arizona Coyotes fans anticipating Dave Bolland‘s debut for his new team will have to wait, and a long time, too, by the sounds of it.
On Thursday, the Florida Panthers traded the 30-year-old Bolland and prospect Lawson Crouse to the Coyotes in exchange for draft picks. Bolland, who has an annual cap hit of $5.5 million, played in only 25 games last season, scoring once with five points.
The move frees up plenty of cap space for the Panthers, while the Coyotes did well to pick up a young forward in Crouse, a former first-round pick who has yet to play in the NHL.
However, at the moment, Bolland is dealing with an injury that could keep him out of any lineup for quite a while. Perhaps the entire season.
#Coyotes' Chayka says Dave Bolland likely "won't be ready to play for the foreseeable future." Injured for the long term.
This latest development might add salt in the wound of Red Wings fans who wish the skilled but aging center was still playing for the Original Six franchise.
He has now scored his first goal since returning to the KHL. Another former NHLer, Ilya Kovalchuk, set it up off the rush. Datsyuk finished off the play with a slick backhander coming down the right wing.
At age 43 Jaromir Jagr was the oldest player in the NHL last season by more than four years.
You would have never known it when watching him play.
He was still a dominant top-line player and on many night was the best player on the team. His 66 points were more than any player in NHL history age 43 or older, and he finished as the team’s leading scorer.
While he has obviously slowed down from where he was during his peak years in the league when he was one of best players ever, he is still playing at a level that almost no other player in NHL history has been able to match at this age. And there doesn’t seem to be any sign of him dramatically slowing down in the near future.
So with Jagr back in the mix for another year, will he end up leading the Panthers in scoring once again even though he will be 44 years old? Jagr is one of just three players in NHL history that has ever finished as his team’s leading scorer over the age of 40, a list that includes only him, Gordie Howe and Teemu Selanne. He is the only player that has done it over the age of 43 and the only one that has done it for two different teams (New Jesrey in 2013-14 and Florida in 2015-16).
The one player that seems to be a significant challenger is Aleksander Barkov. He finished just seven points behind Jagr in 2015-16 (in 12 fewer games) and spent most of the season playing on a line with Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau, a trio that was one of the most dominant lines in the league when they were together. But given how Jagr still seems to be in great shape and was still a 60-point player a year ago he is not going to be easy to overtake.