Tag: Alex Ovechkin


Is it too early to get excited about Crosby vs. Ovechkin again?


Yes, we’ve been in this spot before.

For all the star power that the NHL boasts outside of Pittsburgh and Washington, it’s difficult to resist the siren call of a spike in the Sidney Crosby – Alex Ovechkin rivalry. It’s perfectly plausible that we’ll never get a sequel to that memorable 2009 playoff series.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s be honest: it’s been a while since the Penguins and Capitals were in a better position collectively to pull this off.

Serious firepower

It’s still strange to picture Phil Kessel in a Penguins uniform, firing home well-placed passes from Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin … but would it be that outrageous to imagine Kessel chasing Ovechkin in the Maurice Richard race now? As excited as Crosby and Malkin seem to be about the acquisition, Kessel and hockey fans should be especially thrilled.

Here’s the wrinkle that makes things even more fun: while the Penguins added the biggest name, Washington’s moves likely provide the Capitals with a deeper array of weapons.

Beyond the obvious in Nicklas Backstrom, the Caps now combine seasoned newcomers (Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie) with promising youngsters (Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky) to form a frightening forward group.

Hockey’s a team sport, and Crosby – Ovechkin can only be so riveting on their own … so how about Crosby, Malkin, Kessel and Kris Letang vs. Ovechkin, Backstrom, Williams, Oshie and Washington’s bevvy of pricey blueliners? Yeah, that sounds like appointment viewing.

While they’re still young

NHL TV Awards Show
via Getty Images

As strange as it sounds, the window might be closing on this rivalry, at least as a true showcase of two players who are seriously considered two of the best alive.*

Ovechkin will turn 30 on Sept. 17, and his hair is already looking a little grayer these days. Crosby turns 28 in August and people are already wondering if he’s starting to slow down.

No, the Penguins and Capitals haven’t totally mortgaged their futures this summer, yet the complexion of each franchise changed in some resounding ways in the past few days. You never know what might happen – we’ve been fooled before – but it’s tough not to picture an epic 2016 playoff series between these two players (and teams).

If nothing else, it’s fun to think about.

* – One could quibble about where the two rank among the elite, but they’re at least up there, right?

Oshie on trade from St. Louis: ‘Changes had to be made’

T.J. Oshie

With back-to-back first round playoff exits and the St. Louis Blues retaining its coaching staff, T.J. Oshie expected changes to the roster.

Oshie was dealt to the Washington Capitals on Thursday as part of a four-player trade.

“I felt like it was a very good possibility,” Oshie said. “I did feel with the players in that locker room that we were falling short, but that if we went back with the same team we would’ve done a good job and hopefully learned from some of our mistakes.

“After I found out that (Ken Hitchcock) was coming back, I figured there would be at least one or two moves that (GM Doug Armstrong) would want to make.”

Despite expecting change, Oshie thought the window on him being moved had passed.

“I thought something would possibly happen in the draft,” he said. “As a couple days passed, I just figured that I’d be staying in St. Louis. Got a call from Armstrong today, and my initial reaction was a little bit of shock even though I knew it was a possibility. Then after a few minutes, I started getting excited and actually really excited to go on to the next chapter of my career.”

Originally a first round pick of the Blues (24th overall in 2005), Oshie appeared in 443 regular season games with St. Louis scoring 110 goals and 310 points.

During the 10-minute conference call, Oshie also addressed his comments following the Blues’ 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on March 30. He had returned to the lineup after missing one game due to the flu.

Here’s what Oshie had to say via Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Dispatch back in March:

“I didn’t think the flu would be good for me,” he said, “but coming back in tonight and not having to sit through all the meetings and same old practices, it really felt good to get out there. I was excited again to do something as simple as change well for the next guy coming out.

“I can’t put one finger on it. I’ll just say it was nice for me coming in tonight. I was mentally fresh. Physically, I didn’t feel my best, but I think I was so sharp our there that my game looked a lot faster.”

On Monday morning, Oshie, when asked about the possibility of the Blues clinching, had joked, “We’ve got enough to focus on with Hitch’s video.”

The 28-year-old said on Thursday that he felt those comments were made into a bigger deal.

“I expected big things out of myself. I think the fans did as well,” he said. “There’s a lot of disappointment after the way we lost out. I feel like the media blew out of proportion the thing that I said about being refreshed after I missed (time) cause of the flu. I think fans thought that me and Hitch had a bad relationship or something like that. Changes had to be made.

“I couldn’t be more excited about going to Washington.”

With the trade to Washington, Oshie is looking forward to the possibility of playing alongside Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

“It would be something I’ve never experienced before,” Oshie said. “I’ve always played with very good players, players that have played in the Olympics, but never players that have put up numbers like those two guys have.

“To get out there with them would be amazing. I’d be excited. I feel kind of like a kid in the candy store playing with that calibre of players.”

Getting clutch? Capitals sign Justin Williams for two years, $6.5M

Justin Williams

Fair or not, Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals are associated with losing “the big game.” With that in mind, is there any better way to change that than by adding “Mr. Game 7?”

In one of the surprises on a free agent frenzy that’s actually amounted to a series of pretty reasonable deals, it sounds like the Capitals got Justin Williams at a very reasonable price. The two-year pact is worth just $6.5 million ($3.25 million cap hit per season), the team confirmed.

When Williams was on his way to winning the 2014 Conn Smythe Trophy, it seemed preposterous to picture him not making a big raise from his old cap rate of $3.65 million.

It turns out that was true … but unexpectedly, he’ll make even less. Wow.

The Montreal Canadiens and Los Angeles Kings were also in the running for Williams, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

A down year

There’s no denying that Williams, 33, fell short of having a strong contract year.

Most obviously, the Kings missed the playoffs and basically faced one disaster after another. Williams saw a slight decrease in regular season production (from 43 points in 2013-14 to 41 last year) and his outstanding playoff performances must have faded from some minds. One could argue that, like Antoine Vermette, Williams didn’t sign a deal at the height of his earning power.

Even so, Williams is more than just a guy who scores big goals. He’s frequently been a possession monster, even standing out on a puck-hogging team like the Kings.

With the Pittsburgh Penguins making a splashy trade to get Phil Kessel and the Caps adding Williams on the cheap, the Metropolitan Division is shaping up to be fascinating in 2015-16.

Have we already seen the best bargain of the summer?

With Green gone, is it an end of an era for Washington?

Alex Ovechkin; Mike Green

It’s been quite some time since the Washington Capitals were the free-wheeling, high-scoring machine that once stacked up goals, division titles and serious blame in huge quantities.

Still, for some, Mike Green’s inevitable departure feels like the true end of an era.

The Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg explores that feeling, as he looks back on the “Young Guns” group that featured Green, Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom.

While Ovechkin was the biggest star of the four, Green embodied the spirit of that movement in some ways:

Green was the only native English speaker of the Young Guns, the tattooed, spiky-haired skateboard-loving icon who was pals with Ryan Zimmerman and Chris Cooley, and was mildly popular in certain teenage sets. His offensive peak was absurd: In Washington’s first three modern playoff seasons, he averaged an outrageous .91 points per game. And even if he became a seldom-mentioned third-pair defenseman at the end of his tenure, he remained synonymous with some of the most explosive teams Washington had ever seen.

In case you’re fuzzy on the hype they once produced, check out this video, which feels ancient even it surfaced in 2008:

With injuries and a declining role over the years, there were times that Green felt like a shell of himself, even as he quietly proved effective in the eyes of many. To some, his exit is overdue, yet plenty of Capitals fans will sigh wistfully as they watch Green skate around in Red Wings red.

‘It’s hard to find players like Phil Kessel’

Phil Kessel

For all the criticisms of Phil Kessel — and we’re not saying they’re all without merit — here are some facts:

— He has 247 goals in 668 career NHL games. Among active players, that’s the 29th-most goals. And he’s only 27.

— Over the last five seasons, only Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, and Corey Perry have scored more goals than Kessel. And Kessel’s center has mostly been Tyler Bozak. In Pittsburgh, it’ll be Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.

That’s why Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is excited to have acquired Kessel, whom he considers “right there” in a class with Ovechkin and Stamkos.

“It’s hard to find players like Phil Kessel,” Rutherford told TSN.

Not only did Rutherford get the player he wanted without giving up Derrick Pouliot or Olli Maatta, two young defensemen the Pens will need even more now, he convinced the Leafs to eat $1.25 million per year of Kessel’s salary.

Without that concession by the Leafs, the deal couldn’t have happened, Rutherford said, noting that the Penguins already have Crosby, Malkin, Kris Letang, and Marc-Andre Fleury signed to big, long-term contracts.

Oh, and Rutherford isn’t done yet. He still hopes to add another winger, as well as a fourth-line center.