*Results May Vary
I wonder after Game 7 between the Rangers and the Caps, when Ovechkin guaranteed that Washington would “come back and win the series,” if he was trying to motivate his team or he really felt like they were going to win. Game 7 was set to be his prophetic stage to show the world that “Hey look I’m right!” Game 7 was set to be his leadership moment, the time when he finally breaks out and steps up to the plate and leads his team out of the second round of the playoffs.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned to appreciate Ovi and respect his talents this year. Seeing him in the Islander series I thought he finally found his way and came around to being a better team player. It felt like he was finally living up to the “C” that is stitched into his jersey. When he first came into the league, I struggled to see his leadership qualities because it always seemed like he was a “me first” player whether that was unfair justification or not I’m not sure.
Unfortunately for Ovi and the Caps it wasn’t meant to be, however for the Rangers and Ranger fans, Lundqvist continues to own Game 7s in the Garden and he continues to play well between the pipes. That’s not to say that Ovi didn’t play well, plus Braden Holtby played a whale of a game and Barry Trotz coached a hell of a game, but the Rangers weathered everything that the Caps threw at them and took every punch until they caught the Caps sleeping in overtime.
I have a hard time with some sports breaking down plays. Normally in football I can watch it and see where someone is running and understand where the coverage went and I can break it down pretty quickly as it is going on even as it is live. You kinda see it unfold. You kinda get it. Maybe it’s just me from watching it so quickly as a kid. Maybe it’s from growing up watching it. I ate, slept and pretty much did everything football as a kid, so it’s in my blood. But when it comes to hockey and I watch it, I don’t see the plays. I heard the announcers last night talk about the Rangers having plays off the face-off and kinda scratched my head, and in full disclosure here, I missed quite a few of them. But that’s what makes them pros and me a dumb writer on a blog.
Watching the faceoff to the scoring of Derek Stepan’s goal in the OT of Game 7, I slowed it down and broke it down in my head trying to put it together to figure out how difficult it must be to script these things. But you know it’s probably just like football when you never really know if the play is gonna work until you try it. Seeing Jasper Fast pass the puck back to Yandle who throws it to Girardi with a quick shot on Holtby and the rebounds comes out to Stepan and in watching the replay it seems like he’s so wide open but yet he has so much time on his own to find the open net. I can’t imagine being in that situation, a wide open net like that with so much time, the nerves going in Game 7. It feels like I’d probably shoot it at Holtby. But Stepan didn’t and the Rangers made the Caps pay.
That’s what this game is about, making the other team pay when they make a mistake. The Caps didn’t cover Stepan on the rebound and he made them pay. The Rangers made some mistakes, they let Ovi skate with the puck across the zone in the first period to beat Lundqvist on his glove side, they committed some bad penalties and turned the puck over too many times, but Washington couldn’t make them pay enough times. The good teams will time in and time out make you pay. Washington couldn’t finish out the series because they just couldn’t make the Rangers pay enough times. The last three games the Rangers kept hammering away at Holtby and they kept making the Caps at crucial times. This Rangers team still has that core that went to the Stanley Cup Finals last year and you can see that in the way that they play.
The one thing I think that Ovi is going to learn from all this is that guarantees are great, but it takes the whole team to buy in. Sports is such a hit and miss thing. You can have a great team and that team can be felled at any time. The puck can bounce the wrong way or someone can do something dumb and the whole thing can fall apart. It’s great to be confident, but it’s another thing to be over confident and when you become over confident you can run your mouth and inspire the other team. Maybe if he gets into this situation next year he can keep his guarantees to himself.
Side effects may include: Over confidence, inflated ego, self-importance, lack of focus.
Use as directed.
*Results may vary.