Can You Win With A Guy Like Ovechkin?

by / Thursday, 06 February 2014 / Published in Uncategorized

Can you win with a Guy like Ovechkin?

“They haven’t won anything yet, so the answer right now is, No”. What the Hell do I know? I never won a Stanley Cup in my career, so I should just shut the FK up… That’s what the haters say! Insinuating that I wouldn’t know hockey or how to break down a player because I didn’t raise the cup is a ridiculous analysis. Over 20 years in the league gives me enough expertise to break down a hockey player’s game.

I want to chat about Alex Ovechkin with the hockey people that look deeper into the game, that have the ability to put their bias for their team/or favorite player aside, and just analyze what we are looking at today.

Previously, Adam Oates said he hates when ex-players criticize current players. Well, why is that? Would he want guys that have never been in the game, never been in the war, never felt the beating, never felt the situation at this level to rate and assess the game? Would that be a better, more credible source?

I am a former player that has a job to do by analyzing plays, players, teams and sometimes it’s about my friends which isn’t easy to do, but it’s my job. I don’t make things up. I don’t go on television because I don’t like someone. The job is to analyze the current play as it is happening. I’m not here to make friends and kiss people’s asses. I’m here to inform people and give my opinion about what I see during a game. The difference is you hear my comments publicly, but you don’t hear what is being said behind the closed doors, and some individuals are not in the position where they can say what they feel, think, or see.

I played with Adam Oates and you cannot convince me that he loves the way Ovi plays, but I am damn sure he loves the way he scores goals and that he’s a big personality. I would be surprised if behind closed doors Adam Oates said he loved every aspect of Ovi’s Game.

I love Alex he’s a great guy. He’s great for the league and the game, so don’t misunderstand my point in times when I praise him and in times when I criticize him. Right now, it’s time to criticize Alex Ovechkin’s play away from goal scoring.

He will go down as the best goal scorer probably to ever play the game, but there is more to the game of hockey than scoring goals. If you analyze his game, I don’t think anyone can call him a complete player. Yes, we have seen glimpses of what could be, and glimpses of greatness from his past, but if you watch him game after game there is no rhyme or reason to his game. Is he a right wing? Is he a left wing? Is he a center? There is no structure to his game. He goes wherever he wants to go and that’s NOT how we are taught to play this game, and that’s what makes me hot.

Let’s Analyze Hockey and How Alex is performing TODAY…

As a winger, your job is to be hard on the forecheck and complete the play right into the corners and Alex is rarely the 1st guy into the forecheck. He pulls up and waits for the puck to come…He’s not the guy going into the corner battling for the puck and coming out with it. Don’t get me wrong he does this but not on a consistent basis like a Zach Parise or Pavel Datsyuk or Jonathan Toews do.

Defensively you see Ovi coming across his defensive blue line standing straight up, not moving his feet, puck watching, which is one of the reasons he is -19 leading his team by a long shot in that category.  Yes, some say it’s a shitty stat however, when you are leading your team and league in goals and leading your team at a -19 you are obviously doing something wrong. Common sense and hockey knowledge tells me that if you have 39 goals and you are -19 there is probably a good chance you don’t have your guy. You are probably not doing your job defensively. I am not saying every minus is Ovi’s fault but you can’t stack up that many without having accountability.

The Break Down

There is more to the game of hockey than scoring goals so pay attention to specific details as you look at the entire player.

The other night on NBC, I said he couldn’t play for the coaches I had, he would have a hard time, and I am sure of it. I believe players don’t like to get yelled at or singled out, but back when I was a kid, Mike Keenan grabbed me by the throat on the bench during a game for turning my back to the puck and doing big circles center ice. He scared the shit out of me and told me I would be benched the next time I did it. He was a man of his word. A 50 goal scorer sat on the bench, and Keenan didn’t care about the aftermath of this move. He was there to make a point with me as a player before this lackadaisical circle became a habit. Every now and then that circle that glorified my smooth presence would show up and I can still hear Darryl Sutter say “Where the FK are you going” and Ken Hitchcock would say “NO big loops JR”. If Ovechkin played for any of those coaches those comments would be yelled at him for 60 minutes every game. These men grilled starts and stops during practice with me to get the “Sweat Effort” as we call it. They demanded it. There has got to be a lack of “Sweat Effort” from a player whose shifts average over a minute long. Don’t get me wrong. I do love that Ovi can turn it on and off and when he is “on” he is a powerful force that’s hard to stop and that will probably go down as the game’s best goal scorer.

I do show video and/or study video backing up the comments that I am speaking of at this moment. Some fans react like I am just being a hater, which is ludicrous, because Ovi has the ability to be the best player in the world and by far the most exciting.

The advantage of having played in the league and against these players is useful in understanding to break down what I see. I was the guy doing the big circle and turning my back to the puck and got screamed at for it, so I do know what I am talking about. I have been there whether you like my opinion or not so if you don’t like it then don’t listen.

Don’t be mad at the messenger; be mad at the player. – JR