It's time to show some love for the captain. As Caps fans we are confused. We are desensitized because of the misfortunes of our team in the past several years but it's time to take a deep breath. We don't have it so bad. I know… For the second time in the past few years we may see a team the Caps all but beat win the Stanley Cup but the show goes on.
The Caps didn't have the season we expected. We expected more of the same. Contend for the President's trophy then try to figure out this whole playoff thing when it was upon us. Instead we had a team that barely made it into the playoffs. When the Caps lost to the Sabres in the with a few games left in the season, I felt the same sick feeling I felt when they lost to the Lightning in Game 3 of the playoffs last year. I had to figure out what to do with myself because the season was over was all but over. Now what? But wait... This Caps squad persevered. They fought into the playoffs...then into the second round...and just came up short against a Rangers team in a series that with a little luck could have been a Caps victory 4-1.
But this post isn't about the feeling you get from being a Caps fan in the playoffs. It's about Alexander Ovechkin. It's about the guy the Canadian media loves to pick apart. It's about the guy who has been supposedly "struggling" in the past few years. It's about the guy who "can't get it done in the playoffs." It's about the guy confused Winnipeg Jets fans chanted Pittsburgh Penguins chants at while they raced for 11th place. It's about the captain.
The Caps lost in the playoffs. 15 other teams will do or already did the same and 14 other teams didn’t even get the opportunity to try. It hurts when your team is done playing for the year. I'd argue that it hurts more for Caps fans than anyone but that's because I'm a Caps fan. Our mistake is that when everyone says the problem is Ovi or Ovi’s production, we listen. You are a Caps fan. Think. How many Stanley Cups did Ovi win when he scored 65 goals in a season? The same as this year.
It's not about his goal production. It's not about his hits. It's not about any statistic. It's about him as leader. We need him to lead us. This is where I may differ from you. Let's get hypothetical. Say McPhee trades Ovi. They get the pieces they are missing in return and next year they win the Cup. I'll be happy but deep down inside I will feel a bittersweet feeling. The same feeling I'll feel the 1, 2, 4, or 6 times I see Ovi that year in an opposing jersey. He is synonymous with the Capitals. When I daydream (or regular dream) about the Caps winning the cup. It involves the Captain smiling a gap toothed smile and raising that trophy to the rafters of the Verizon Center. What about you?
Now that that's settled. I'll admit, I don't think feel he was really a good fit in Hunter's system. Or Boudreau's (lot of vowels in that name) idea for that matter. So my hope, is that whoever the next coach is that tries to instill a system they open it up a little. I want to see my team try to beat other teams not settle for just trying not to lose. They showed the dedication they needed to win this year but they came up just short. If they grow on that and implement a new more open system I feel like we have every reason to be confident moving forward.
Back to Ovi. He takes criticism from the media, other teams fans, and even his own fans but is it really deserved. Let’s use our imaginations. Swap any player in the world with Ovi and do the Caps make it any further this year than they did. Malkin? Giroux? Stamkos? I don’t see it. They all produced more this year but they were all a part of high scoring teams. And all 3 of them were on summer vacation before Ovechkin.
The bottom line. We are Caps fans, therefore we are smarter than all other fans. So think. At this moment in your life do you want to pull for a Caps team that doesn’t have Ovi. You would…but do you want to? Nope. Me either. So let’s show some love for the Captain. No more getting down on him because his scoring is down, the whole team’s scoring is down. The system wasn’t about scoring. It would be hard to argue that anyone wants to win more than him. (If you think different I would argue with you and it would be hard.)
Next season. Whether he is scoring or not let show a little support and trust. No more negativity. Alexander Ovechkin is going to be there. He’s going to be giving it everything he can do get the job done so let’s get on his side.