Alex Ovechkin

Alex Ovechkin faces scoring struggles against playoff teams


There’s a sizable group of people out there who seem to swoop around Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals like vultures circle a wounded animal, waiting for their next opportunity to pick away during a moment of weakness. Maybe it’s some North American-Russian rivalry. Perhaps it’s because Ovechkin clearly brings a careless (sometimes reckless) spirit to the game. Or maybe it’s because his team only won one playoff series so far in the sniper’s already prolific career.

So it’s not surprising to read a post about Ovechkin’s struggles, but when it comes from an absolute authority on the team – and the stance is justified by stats rather than subjective opinions – then it’s time to take notice.

Japers’ Rink took a deeper look at the struggles of Ovechkin and his recurring center Nicklas Backstrom today and found that the superstar Russian produces far less points (and a comparatively miserable plus/minus rating) when he faces playoff caliber teams rather than bottom feeders.

Even if it’s a small sample, the numbers are pretty stark. Check out these numbers via J.P.

(click to enlarge)

In Ovechkin’s defense, Backstrom isn’t prospering either, having only scored one goal in 27 games against teams that would be in the playoffs if they began today. Those individual struggles have extended to the team’s results two, as J.P. points out that the Capitals only have two wins against playoff teams since November 26th.

If Capitals fans need a light at the end of the tunnel, perhaps they should turn to the eventual return of injured winger Alexander Semin. While the team’s other two big scorers score much more against weaker opponents, the much maligned winger scored 13 out of his 18 goals this season against playoff teams, according to J.P.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?