For casual hockey fans, it was easy to forget that there is another sharpshooting Russian left wing named Alex in Washington (Alexander Semin), but he’s making it pretty hard to overlook him this season.
Then again, Alex Ovechkin seems like he might be casting himself in a “new role” this season: elite passer. It’s not as if he couldn’t earn assists before (he hit the 50 assist mark three times and never dipped under 46 in his previous five seasons), but things have been different in 2010-11. The turnaround reminds me a bit of Wilt Chamberlain leading the NBA in assists; perhaps Ovechkin grew tired of hearing talk of selfishness because this season 22 of his 32 points came on helpers.
Maybe it’s just part of the maturation process and Ovechkin simply realizes how much attention his dynamic skills attracts. Either way, he certainly did it on Sunday when he made a gorgeous curl and drag move before setting up Semin for the goal of the night.