A lot has been said this off-season as to if Ovechkin is really a leader in the Caps locker room, does he have the leadership qualities and dedication to make this team great and not just great in the regular season, so far we have yet to see it. Ovechkin recently did a sit down interview with CSN Washington where he was asked questions about his leadership and what fans expect out of him.
Here are two of the questions asked in the interview (all right belong to CSN Washington, no copyright intended)
“CSN: It seems from what you’ve said in the preseason that you want to be a better captain this season. Is that fair to say?
AO: I don’t know what you mean by being a better captain.
CSN: Well, you’ve talked a lot about setting an example by the way you play and the way you practice.
AO: You can ask all the guys. I don’t know if they will say I’m a leader or not. Last year was my first year to be a captain all year. Guys like (Mike Knuble and Brooks Laich), those guys helped me a lot. I talked to them all the time and they told me stuff I never knew. They have experience and now so do I. Sometimes you’re just too shy to say something. I’m not shy. If I want to say something I’m going to step up and say it. But it’s different here because most of the time I don’t need to say something. If we play well and lose a game, sometimes it’s just because you don’t have luck.”
(to read more on this interview http://www.csnwashington.com/hockey-washington-capitals/news/Alex-Ovechkin-unplugged?blockID=571424&feedID=6357)
So, is Ovechkin ready to lead this team to greatness, it sure looks that way. People have also been doubting the young Russian’s skill level many think he won’t produce the same way he used to. But let’s think about it for a quick second, Ovechkin has been over 80 Points every year he has played in the NHL, no too shabby? And his 32 goals last season was the lowest he has every gotten in the NHL, a lot of NHL regulars would dream of having a 30+ goal season, but for Ovechkin that’s bad? Everyone says he is a “puck hog” but what about now when he has gotten more assists than goals in 3 of his 6 NHL season’s (06-07 season was a tie 46 goals and 46 assists) is he still the “puck hogging take all the shots” type guy? I would argue that, I believe Ovechkin is a true overall great player. Of course his shot is better than his passing skill and most wingers are that way but there really isn’t anything this guy can’t do. Leaders of the team are supposed to lead the team in scoring, correct? Ovechkin has done that every year he has been with Washington. Leaders are supposed to lead the team in clutch situations, correct? According to yahoosports, on Ovechkin career stats chart under the “clutch” category Ovechkin has 50 goals and 40 assists, compare that to Sidney Crosby’s 18 goals and 42 assists. Now I’m not here to do nothing but praise Ovechkin, but give credit when credit is due and Ovechkin has definitely deserved the credit. Here is another fun stat when games are tied Ovechkin has put up 103 goals and 104 assists, when losing he has put up 103 goals and 115 assists, and in overtime he has put up 10 goals and 5 assists, all which are better than Sidney Crosby who is arguably the best in the NHL. The one thing that Ovechkin needs now is simply the cup, which is not that simple to get. Ovechkin knows what he needs to do he said it himself in the CSN interview
“CSN: It’s been said that players don’t achieve greatness until they’ve won a championship. Do you believe that?
AO: Of course, when you win you are king of the world. But if you know my personality, I’m a winner and one day I’m going to raise the Cup. If I didn’t want to do it, I wouldn’t be here. I would stay in Russia, stay with my parents, stay in my house and have a good time there. But I’m here and I want to win the Stanley Cup. This is my dream. That’s why this team is built right now to be a champion.”
The Capitals final roster:
Not too much has changed from the offseason except that Mathieu Perreault has finally got his name on the final roster spot for this up-coming season. Perreault has played with Washington for the past 2 seasons mainly last season and has put up some decent numbers in the bigs. His size is a concern for when he has to battle down low, but so far he is looking legit and is determined to stay in DC. I wouldn’t expect much stats wise from him maybe 10-15 goals and 20-25 assists depending on if he ends up getting dropped down to Hershey or not. But this is good for him and the Caps he knows the team well he knows the coaching staff well, and above all he knows how the Caps play. I see a good future in line for Perreault that hopefully keeps him in Washington for many years to come.
Preview for opening night:
Take a big sigh of relief hockey fans summer has finally ended and the cool crisp nights are upon us Which can only mean one thing, hockey is finally back (and that Thanksgiving and Christmas are closer). It has been a very long few months of awaiting the start of the 11-12 season, with new players new coaches and a “new” team. Like every NHL season this one is looking like it will be yet another un-forgettable one. The first night of the regular season kicks off with 3 huge games. The Boston Bruins will be raising the banner in TD north bank as the Philadelphia Flyers come busting into to town with a totally new roster looking to put a damper on the Bruins celebration. I see this game being exactly what hockey fans would expect a rough in your face type game with huge hits and jaw busting fights. Also a big time goalie battle between Timmy Thomas and Bryzgalov. Can Thomas have the same year he had last year and prove to everyone that he is not just a one big year type goalie? And can Bryzgalov shine on a new team that has a much better surrounding cast than his previous team? Can Jagr a once time Pittsburgh penguins star come back from taking time off and still be the start he used to be? Can Nathan Horton duplicate his previous season in Boston? Can the Flyers survive after trading away two of their best player in Richards and Carter? These are just a few of the questions that will be answered and will also give an insight as to how the season will play out.
My prediction for this game: Boston will not disappoint the fans and will light up Bryzgalov with 5 goals while Thomas proves he has what it takes to duplicate last season by allowing only 1 goal.
Penguins at Canucks.
The Canucks will not be raising the Stanley cup banner tomorrow night but will be trying to shake off the memories of last year’s game 7 cup final game. The Penguins will be coming in without their star Crosby who is likely to miss a few more games as he recovers from his last years season ending injury. Malkin is at full health and is expected to have a huge season this year for Pens, if he can stay healthy. The pens didn’t really change too much of their roster from last year to this year which is very scary, with the two superstars Crosby and Malkin both out last year the pens still continued to win games and make the playoffs, they have a very deep roster and great goaltending, if Crosby and Malkin both play, watch out for the pens this year. The Canucks also didn’t change things around too much, they firmly believe that they can win the cup with the team they have now and why not? This same team went to the cup last year and was lights out during the regular season. I expect this to be a big time goalie battle with lou and flower both playing great. The Sedin’s will be limited but will eventually breakout; it’s too hard to keep them off the scoreboard. I see the Canucks winning 3-2 in overtime. Malkins return will be solid and pens fans will be able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Habs at Leafs:
The Habs come into town to take on the leafs in a Canadian rivalry. Montreal has had some disappointments in the playoffs the past few years while the leafs have not made the playoffs the past few years. Can Carry Price be the same guy he was the start of last season? Can James Reimer be the final piece of the puzzle for the Leafs? Can the leafs live up to expectations and make a playoff push this year? That question won’t be answered in one game but tomorrow will give us a good look at what to expect out of them. I believe the leafs are a dark horse in the east this year and will surprise a lot of people (even their own fans) as they make the playoffs. For this game I see the Leafs winning in decisive fashion 4-1, James Reimer is the missing link for the leafs and now with a good goalie in net and a solid team on the ice the leafs will shine like in the past.
Next post will cover the aftermath of the Capitals and Canes opening night game Saturday night in DC.
Take care and GO CAPS!