When a series comes down to a Game 7 there are always going to be the “Who, what, when, why, where, and how?” questions circling around. Who could have done better? What happened to the offense? When did this happen? Why did that shot go through? Where was the goalie? How could this have been prevented? All of those are viable questions. However, if you ask the Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, it was all a conspiracy.
Following the expeditious deconstruction of the Washington Capitals, on home ice, by the New York Rangers in Game 7, Ovechkin sure had a controversial idea of what cost the Capitals not only Game 6, but the series as well.
The refereeing … you understand it yourself. How can there be no penalties at all (on one team) during the playoffs?” Ovechkin said in Russian (the interview was translated by Slava Malamud, a longtime writer who has covered Ovechkin). “I am not saying there was a phone call from (the league), but someone just wanted Game 7. For the ratings. You know, the lockout, escrow, the league needs to make profit.” – via ESPN.com
Do you think the captain, someone who is nominated for the Art Ross Trophy as well as the Hart Trophy this season, was done there? Oh, no. No he wasn’t.
I don’t know whether the refs were predisposed against us or the league,” he said. “But to not give obvious penalties (against the Rangers), while for us any little thing was immediately penalized.” via ESPN.com
I’m not always one to jump on a media bandwagon, or immediately agree with something that a commentator says and take it as fact; however, I find myself summarily aligned with the opinion of ESPN Reporter Skip Bayless. This seems like a classic case of blame deflection.
Ovechkin, who is the top goal scorer in the NHL this season, fell completely flat in the series against the Rangers. Despite having 18 shots on goal, he netted one lone goal the entire series which came in Game 1. He earned one assist that came on the tails of Mike Green’s OT goal in Game 2. That would be the end of Ovechkin’s production, falling completely flat for the remainder of the series.
Could the series have gone another direction if their top goal scorer had produced at a more top tier level? The world may never know.
Now, I can see how one may come to the conclusion that the refs were to blame for this going to a Game 7. The Rangers did indeed have 5 power play opportunities in Game 6 while the Capitals had none. However, if you look at the cold, hard facts, not one of those power play opportunities resulted in a goal for the Rangers.
In fact, if you want to break it down, throughout the series Washington scored 3 goals on the power play, the Rangers only brought home 2. Remind me again who the power play worked out for?
At the end of the day, with a team filled with household names like Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Jason Chimera, absolutely no one offensively stepped up to the plate to lead their team to victory. If anything positive can be said about the Capitals in this series, it is that their defensive line did the best that they could to keep this series under control. Three of the four games won by New York this series were decided by just one goal.
In the last 5 years, the Capitals made it all the way to the playoffs only to lose in the Quarterfinal Round twice and the Semifinal Round 3 times. I think the most memorable of those playoffs losses, at least in the eyes of the Bolts Nation, would be when the Capitals were swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2010-11 season. Who would have thought that the number 1 team in the Eastern Conference that year would be summarily dismantled by the number 5 Tampa Bay Lightning? However, that is another story for another day. It does, however, illustrate my point that anything can happen when it comes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
There has been no official comment from the National Hockey League regarding Ovechkin’s post game comments, or whether or not there will be any penalties, financial or otherwise coming his way. One can only assume that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman isn’t too pleased with Ovechkin’s comments. We will see in the days to come if anything will come of this, or if it will just be another page in conspiracy theory history.
What do you think was the catalyst for the Capitals destruction this series? Do you think Ovechkin’s claims against the NHL hold water, or do you think he is attempting to cast the blame somewhere else in order to save his own name? Sound off in the comments below, and let your voice be heard.