Tag Archives: Brian MacLellan

Still Out Of His Reach

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Alex Ovechkin

It’s hard to overlook the talent of Washington Capitals left winger Alex Ovechkin. Since Ovechkin was the first overall pick of the 2004 National Hockey League Draft, he has been the face of the Capitals franchise and one of the top players in the league. Ovechkin is one of the top goal scorers in NHL history as he has scored at least 50 goals in a season seven times which has led to him being an eight-time All-Star and a three-time league MVP. Ovechkin’s 558 career goals are 16th all-time in NHL history and when his playing career comes to an end he will undoubtedly be inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame. But as good as Ovechkin’s resume has been, there is still one thing that eludes him.

For the second consecutive year the Capitals won the Presidents’ Trophy as the top team in the National Hockey League. And for the second consecutive year the Caps were eliminated in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Overall the Capitals are 1-9 in the postseason versus the Penguins, while Ovechkin is 0-3. And what makes matter worse is that Ovechkin’s losses have come at the hands of Penguins center Sidney Crosby who has been his chief rival as far as being the best player in the NHL.

So now as Ovechkin who will be 32-years of age by the time that beginning of the 2017-2018 National Hockey League season rolls around, fairly or unfairly he is now being labeled as a tremendous scorer who is unable to lead his team to a championship. The Caps have never gotten past the second round with Ovechkin and you have to wonder if they ever will.

We’re in the midst of watching the Penguins dynasty in the Eastern Conference as their depth has been to much for Washington to overcome. And if trying to get past the Pens isn’t enough, the Caps also have to contend with the likes of the New York Rangers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Montreal Canadiens, and the upstart Toronto Maple Leafs just to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

Brian MacLellan

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan has done a solid job of putting talent around Ovechkin which includes the likes of goalie Braden Holtby, center Nicklas Backstrom, and right winger T.J. Oshie, along with bringing in a veteran head coach in Barry Trotz. But Ovechkin still has to find a way to elevate his game when it matters the most. In the series loss to Pittsburgh, Ovechkin was limited to just a pair of goals, while he and his Capitals teammates were shutout completely in Game 7.

And as Ovechkin and his teammates continue to dominate in the regular season, but fall short in the playoffs, he’ll be labeled as the superstar who cannot get it done when it matters the most, while the Capitals will simply be “next year’s champs”.

Source: Hockey-reference.com

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A Capital Turnaround

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There’s no debating the talent of the Washington Capitals as they are one of the more talented teams in the National Hockey League. But just because the Capitals are a talented team doesn’t mean that they’ve been consistently victorious. Two years ago the Capitals were one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, but they were eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the New York Rangers. Last season the underachieving Caps missed the playoffs by three points and because of this general manager George McPhee head coach Adam Oates let go last spring. Brian MacLellan was hired to be the new Capitals general manager and he appointed Barry Trotz to be the new head coach in D.C. Trotz had recently been put out of work after he was fired as he had been the only head coach in the history of the Nashville Predators. And with the Capitals, MacLellan and Trotz are getting the most out of their roster this season.

The Caps won’t be watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs from home this spring as they’ll be participating in them. The Capitals currently have the fourth best record in the Eastern Conference and they have their first 100-point season since the 2010-2011 NHL season.

The Capitals got off to a slow start this season as they were 10-10-4 on December 2 following a home loss to the Vancouver Canucks. But since the start of 2015, Washington has been one of the hottest teams in hockey. The Caps defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 on New Year’s Day in the Winter Classic at Nationals Park and they haven’t looked back as they’re 27-14-4 since then as they’ve been carried by their leaders.

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Alex Ovechkin

Capitals left winger Alex Ovechkin is one of the premier superstars in the National Hockey League due to his size, speed, and overall scoring ability. Through the end of December, Ovechkin had 17 goals on the season. But it appears that Ovechkin made a New Year’s resolution to score and keep on scoring. In Janaury, Ovechkin went for 12 goals including a pair in a 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins and his rival there in center Sidney Crosby. In the chill of February, Ovechkin continued to sizzle as he went for 10 goals in the shortest month of the year. And as March rolled around, Ovechkin didn’t stop as he went for 11 goals including a pair in a critical victory at the end of the month over the Rangers. Whereas Ovechkin was once looking up at Rangers left winger Rick Nash and Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin as far as being the top goal scorers in the NHL this season, Ovechkin has blazed by them and the rest of the pack as he will lead the league in goals scored for the sixth time in his career.

Ovechkin has had help all season on his line from Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom sets them up and Ovechkin knocks them down. As Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals this season with 52, many of those assists have come from Backstrom. Backstrom is tied for the league this season in assists with 59. The law firm of Ovechkin and Backstrom have also helped the Caps to have the top power play percentage in the NHL this season.

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Braden Holtby

And as scoring alone with not make a team a contender; even with the stars that they have lighting the lamp, you need to have a quality net minder and the Caps have found one in goalie Braden Holtby. Holtby is in his fifth NHL season (all with the Capitals) and he has come into his own. Holtby’s 2.21 goals against average this season is fifth in the league and he’s also been durable as he’s appeared in 72 games this season.

As the Stanley Cup Playoffs are set to begin, the Capitals have everything set up for a deep run. Trotz is an experienced head coach that wants to make the most out of his second chance. Washington has a star in Ovechkin that can put a team on his back. And Holtby can be a one-man gang between the pipes. All that is left for the Capitals to do is to go out there and make this spring to remember for the hockey fans in the Nation’s Capitol.

Source: Hockey-Reference.com

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