Tag: Alex Ovechkin


Ovechkin believes Washington deserved better


Dejected and exhausted. That’s probably the best way to describe Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin after his guarantee didn’t come true on Wednesday.

Ovechkin didn’t have much of an explanation for why the Capitals fell just short against the New York Rangers in Game 7 and in the series overall, although he did praise Henrik Lundqvist moments after Washington’s season came to a crushing end.

The tone of Ovechkin’s comments more or less parallel the reactions from teammates and head coach Barry Trotz. In short: the result stings, yet the Capitals seem happy about their efforts (and optimistic about the future).

Caps’ Trotz: ‘Defeat is not your undertaker’

Barry Trotz

For some, tonight’s overtime Game 7 loss to the New York Rangers was just another crushing defeat for the Alex Ovechkin-led Washington Capitals. Those around the team seem more optimistic … at least those who can digest it already, that is.

Head coach Barry Trotz praised the Caps’ big-time players even as the sting of that 2-1 OT defeat lingers, as the Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt reports.

“We’re learning from our history and we’re looking it right in the eye,” Trotz said. “We went after this game…and almost pulled it off.”

“I think my top guys delivered. All my top guys…They grew up. They grew today.”

Braden Holtby echoed Trotz’s thoughts, right down to talking about growth, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

“If we keep growing the way we grew this year we’re going to do some special things,” Holtby said.

Trotz also backed up Ovechkin’s now-ill-fated guarantee one more time:

It’s easy to see why the Capitals aren’t throwing each other under the bus. This series was about as tight as it gets with all seven games being decided by a single goal. Washington may have been in round three if a few extra bounces went its way.

Of course, there is one naysayer side to growth talk: in a salary cap era, you may lose key contributors to free agency like Mike Green and Joel Ward. It’s also difficult to ignore the fact that Alex Ovechkin will turn 30 around training camp time (the age where most snipers begin to decline in production).

Still, the Caps saw promising work in year one under Trotz, and one can assume that young players including Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky will only get better and gain more trust from their head coach.

Don’t get things twisted, though; not every member of the organization is taking the loss in stride just yet.

Stepan up: Rangers best Caps in overtime of Game 7


Alex Ovechkin scored and made his presence felt in Game 7, but the New York Rangers got what matters: the win. Derek Stepan put home the 2-1 overtime game-winner, ending the Washington Capitals’ season and punching New York’s ticket to the 2015 Eastern Conference finals.

In the process, the Rangers became the first team in NHL history to rally back from 3-1 series deficits in consecutive postseasons.

With that, the two teams seem to fall into a narrative of success and failure:

The start seemed to point toward a minor Messier moment for Ovechkin. He scored a nice goal to put Washington up 1-0 and enjoyed plenty of chances throughout the game. Braden Holtby also made an impression by spurning Rick Nash on a shorthanded breakaway chance.

Things really swung in the second period, however, as they took advantage of a string of power-play opportunities to tie things up. Kevin Hayes punched in a beautiful J.T. Miller pass to make it 1-1, setting the stage for a nerve-wracking finish.

(The third period didn’t provide much action … but there was plenty of violence and personal dentistry.)

The overtime was fast and furious with both teams getting some golden chances. There was one scary stretch for the Rangers early on:

As strong as Holtby was in this series, Henrik Lundqvist & Co. move on. The legend of Lundqvist only continues:

The Rangers move on to what should be a fascinating conference final matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Capitals, meanwhile, face an offseason full of questions as they’re forced to digest yet another punch to the gut in the playoffs.

Even after a strong game, many will question Ovechkin, especially considering the guarantee and the disappointing outcome. The one thing we can’t debate: Ovechkin (and Barry Trotz) have never made it beyond the round two of a postseason.

Video: Holtby denies Nash on shorthanded breakaway

Braden Holtby

Those who like to beat up on perceived “chokers” probably felt really sad to see perennial punching bag Alex Ovechkin score a big Game 7 goal. They probably received some relief later on in the period, though.

Rick Nash is no stranger to being a scapegoat, and his critics won’t be silenced after he failed to beat Braden Holtby with this backhand move on a shorthanded breakaway:

To some, this save was reminiscent of Marc-Andre Fleury stopping Ovechkin in Game 7 of that memorable Pittsburgh Penguins – Capitals series in 2009:

Restricted free agent or not, Holtby could make himself a lot of money in the playoffs.

Early delivery: Ovechkin scores 1-0 goal

Washington Capitals v New York Rangers - Game Seven

All eyes are on Alex Ovechkin in Game 7 … yet even someone under such surveillance can occasionally break free.

Ovechkin sprang free to some open space in a small window of time, receiving a pretty pass from Marcus Johansson and beating Henrik Lundqvist up high to give the Washington Capitals a 1-0 lead against the New York Rangers:

There’s plenty of time for Ovechkin’s bold words to bite him back, but so far, he’s delivering.