- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 10, 2013

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The cherry blossoms are out and, my, don’t they look lovely. The weather is turning warm. The Nationals’ season has begun and they have their first home series against the Braves this weekend.

It’s a grand time to be in good ol’ D.C.

Just not for any of those reasons.

The real reason this is a high-fiving time in the nation’s capital is it looks like The Great 8 is back in town, and not just for a quick visit. It looks like he is here to stay.

Alex Ovechkin needs to go buy a lottery ticket. He’d win. He needs to go play in the Masters. He’d win. He needs to find a horse to ride in the Kentucky Derby. He’d win. He needs to go put on a Nats uniform and hit a couple of home runs to help them beat the Braves. Heck, if RG3 doesn’t make it back in time from his knee surgery … you get the idea.

Ovechkin is hot and he’s carrying the Caps along for the ride. Sure, others are playing well. Sure, they don’t do anything without being a team and all that. But let’s make one thing clear — Alex Ovechkin rows that boat.

With apologies to Reggie Jackson, who first used the line when he joined the New York Yankees in 1977, Alex Ovechkin is the straw that stirs the drink. Maybe more than anyone in any sport.

When he’s on, the Capitals are on. It really is that simple.

And, boy, is he on now. Going into the Caps’ home game Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, he has 26 goals in this lockout-shortened season. That is tied for the league lead.

He had two goals through the first 10 games. In the past 13, the Caps are 10-2-1 and Ovechkin has 16 goals and six assists.

Washington is in good position to make the playoffs and could go on a nice run toward the Stanley Cup. Laughable two months ago, not so much now.

Ovechkin has worked his way into the MVP conversation. Though he isn’t a front-runner, he at least has to be considered.

Laughable two months ago, not so much now.

Ovechkin, only 27 despite being around seemingly forever, is an interesting study.

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