If Stanley Crosby has long been known as the golden boy of ice hockey, Alex Ovechkin has built his reputation around being the undoubted bad boy on the ice, a player who only hits top form for his team when he applies himself physically and emotionally. This season, unfortunately for hockey fans, the player quite simply hasn’t turned up in the way that he needs to in order for the Washington Capitals to feel safe in the knowledge that they have the best player in the league on their roster.
Ovechkin, in recent games, has started to put in a few hits and shots that are starting to make him look a little like his old self, but at this stage of the season it’s no longer about potential and baby steps; it’s about getting your team prepared to clinch a play-off spot by putting together a strong middle to end-of-season run – something those looking for NHL picks have taken note of.
With the Capitals having their roster options severely limited by the fact that they decided to tie Ovechkin down for the long haul, officials at the franchise –as well as those who bet on hockey – know all too well that they need their star man to prove himself capable of carrying the team almost single-handedly if that’s what it takes. At the moment, though, it is fair to say that the team is carrying him, and the Caps simply cannot afford this to happen.
In spite of that, the management at Washington remain confident that the 13-year, $124 million contract extension the player signed in 2008 still represents a fantastic bit of business for a team who had been searching for so long for the key to unlocking multiple Stanley Cup appearances.
If the Capitals end up getting into the play-offs, then perhaps Ovechkin can finally remember the debt he owes the team and start displaying the sort of performances he can truly be proud of.