Yet, I don’t know what to make of this Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals situation anymore. There are so many things at play at this point, that you just end up arguing and thinking in circles as you try to dissect not only the team, but what the prevailing narrative is about the team amongst the media.
Think about it. If the Caps are winning and Ovechkin is dominating, they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread – but can they translate this success when it matters?
If the Caps are winning and Ovechkin is struggling on the scoreboard – oh he’s trying to do everything else to help the team succeed. He is learning to put the team first – but can he repeat this success when it matters?
If the Caps are losing and Ovechkin is playing great – his play, while great, can be detrimental to the overall success of the team. Maybe he is trying too hard to singlehandedly carry the team – does he expect to do this and succeed when it matters?
If both the Caps and Ovechkin are struggling – what’s wrong with the Caps!? This team can’t win! Somebody has got to go.
Which one is it? The only overarching theme is the cloud of previous postseason failures that hang over this team. Besides that, everything seems to shift depending on how either the Caps or Ovechkin are faring.
The latest prominent example of this style of questioning comes from The Hockey News as they spend several hundred words (building on thousands and thousands that have already been spent) wondering what is wrong with Ovechkin. In this case, as both he and the team struggle.
The problem is that – and it is not a terribly written article, in fact it is quite passable – it just seems to be yet another directionless, pointless example of filling an empty space that the media itself has created. You want a good laugh? Google “what’s wrong with the Caps?” Wash yourself in the sea of words devoted to this topic. Not just this year, but last year as well, and the one before, and the one before that — it’s like clockwork. At what point does the narrative become tired to write? Do the Caps need to win it all? And I wonder, if they do, will this continue? Will they become the Yankees of the NHL in the sense that the wolves will always be circling, waiting to pounce on a topic that seems to be driving a lot of page views. After all, just look at that search result.
Whatever happened to the simple idea of a team going through ups and downs during the course of a long, grueling season? Last I checked, that is still a thing. You saw similar pieces wondering if we were at “the end of the Red Wings dynasty” just because they struggled a bit after a torrid start. And yes, I understand that the arguments are not being made because it is just a losing streak, but because it is a long one and features underwhelming to horrid performances against the league peasants. But let me ask you this, would you put money on the Red Wings missing the playoffs? Would you put money on the Caps not making it into the final 16?
It is a long, long, long season. It is impossible for a team to sustain torrid success for the entire duration of a regular season. Better to work out the kinks and get the funk out of the way right now rather than when it can affect the chances of postseason success. And you know what, even then, if the team resumes winning, only to suffer another losing streak later on in the season, it won’t change the fact that it is still a long season. Clearly the Capitals can win. The 7-0 start wasn’t a fluke. They are quite capable in that department, but maybe, and I recognize the impossibility of the request I am about to make, let’s see things play out for a bit longer before rushing to bust out the panic drums.
But then again, that won’t drive visitors to your article, will it [insert offending media member]?
Sahil Patel can be reached on his direct Twitter line @sahilness. For any other questions, please consult the comments section, where he promises to respond to any criticisms in the most childish way possible. Also, the title is meant to be ironic, just in case no one picked up on that.