The common complaint is to say that Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals aren’t “clutch.” Perhaps the next wave of criticism might amount to a complete 180: maybe Ovechkin is now only clutch.*
Three of Ovechkin’s relatively low 27 goals have been game-winners this season and he’s had a particular flair for the dramatic lately. Ovechkin scored an overtime-game winner against the New York Islanders on Feb. 28 and did the same tonight with a 3-2 OT tally to drop the Tampa Bay Lightning. In the three games sandwiched in between, he hasn’t managed a single point.
Either way, Washington is very happy at the moment. The team is currently sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 72 points, enjoying a tie-breaker advantage over division rivals Winnipeg (who has the same amount of points and games played).
The Jets are just moments away from playing a tough game against the Canucks in Vancouver, so the Capitals won’t need to wait long to find out if they’ll – briefly – stand alone as the East’s current final seed.
Sure it wasn’t the prettiest contest – Mike Green might sit out a game or more for a questionable check – but ultimately the Capitals passed the first of a series of tests that will truly challenge their team during the next two weeks.
* – Personally, I tend to cringe at much of the talk of “clutchness,” at least in a sport that lacks control as much as hockey usually does.
In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.
For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.
Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.
Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.
They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.
Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.
Taking three games to score your first NHL goal isn’t a big deal, unless you’re someone like Connor McDavid.
The mega-hyped wunderkind must feel relieved to finally find the net, as he tied tonight’s Edmonton Oilers – Dallas Stars skirmish with a 2-2 deflection goal, which you can watch above this post’s headline.
To no surprise, there were plenty of reactions, including Pierre LeBrun’s tweet (which inspired part of this headline).
Of course, there were the inevitable Wayne Gretzky comparisons:
Interesting thing you might not consider: Stars fans will have to stomach this one even more frequently than that time Patrik Stefan biffed that empty-netter (also against the Oilers):
McDavid may have also delivered his first questionable check, too: