Perhaps the most interesting individual match-up to watch during the Capitals' Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series with the Canadiens will be Alex Ovechkin vs. Andrei Markovthe toughest defenseman rather than re-signing in Montreal. to join him in Washington
With that in mind, let's take a closer look at the head-to-head meetings between Markov and AO after the jump.
|3/30/06||MTL, 3-2 (OT)||0||2||-1||5||-||+1||1|
|1/5/08||WSH, 5-4 (OT)||2||0||0||5||12||0||3|
|1/31/08||WSH, 5-4 (OT)||4||1||+4||6||2||-1||1|
|2/18/09||WSH, 4-3 (SO)||1||0||+1||6||7||-1||3|
|2/10/10||MTL, 6-5 (OT)||0||2||+1||8||11||+2||4|
|Total, 18 games||MTL, 9-6-3||11||11||-1||91||74||+9||43|
[A/B/M - attempted, blocked or missed shots taken (note: these stats were not all kept prior to 2007-08); BkS - blocked shots]
Lots of numbers there, and lots of frustration for AO (on the goal-scoring front, at least). We see multiple games with big numbers of shots that never even reached the net, and, more importantly, a relatively low goal total - take away what many regard as the best game of his NHL career and Ovechkin is averaging .41 goals per game, well below his career .68 goals per game regular season average. Even with those four tallies, he's "only" at .61 goals per game, and his shots on goal per game are below his career average as well.
All of this isn't to say that Ovechkin might not torch the Habs over the next handful of days, but Montreal - the entire Habs team - has done a pretty good job against him in recent years. As AO knows, his good buddy Andrei Markov is a big part of that (though it should be noted that Jacques Martin chose to play Jaroslav Spacek and Roman Hamrlik most frequently against AO in the teams' one meeting in Montreal this season when Markov was healthy). It will be interesting to see whether Bruce Boudreau tries to avoid the match-up, or, like his two-time reigning Hart Trophy winner so often does, just tries to plow on through it. The smart money is on the latter.