- Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed
- Mississippi abortion law can’t be enforced
- Teacher who survived Sandy Hook has book deal
- Jury awards Jesse Ventura $1.8M in case vs. ‘American Sniper’ author Chris Kyle
- Government OKs Arab-owned company to operate U.S. cargo port
- Defense lawyer: McDonnell’s wife had ‘crush’ on CEO
- Chinese hackers stole ‘huge quantities’ of sensitive data on Israel’s Iron Dome
- House unveils bill to speed deportations of illegal immigrant children
- Californians protest middle school for hiring white man to teach cultural studies
- Killer’s sentencing overturned because mother couldn’t find seat in courtroom
HARRIS: Alex Ovechkin’s MVP case bolstered with each Capitals win
Question of the Day
Adam Oates coaches the Capitals, which means he coaches Alex Ovechkin. So of course he’s going to be “very biased” when discussing the Most Valuable Player candidacy of the man who has put the Caps on his back like a big ol’ piano and carried the team to the cusp of the NHL playoffs.
“Obviously, Alex has really led our team, and you see it every night now,” Oates said. “Obviously, every team that we play, they have to focus on him. And he’s in a good place and his linemates have played great for him and he’s helped them. I think that line has carried us … a lot of positive things.”
Bias aside, Oates makes some good points. The Caps have won eight straight going into Thursday’s game at Ottawa. They are 14-3-1 in their past 18. Ovechkin has 19 goals and eight assists in that stretch. He scored two goals in the team’s first 10 games. He now leads the league in goals
But Oates is biased. So let’s go outside the house, so to speak, and get some thoughts on whether Ovechkin has a realistic chance to add a third Hart Trophy (the NHL names everything) to his collection.
Stephen Whyno, The Times’ hockey writer, has a vote and would put the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby first and Ovechkin second if he had to vote now. Tough to argue that, though Oates says, “You have to factor in the fact [Crosby has] missed a lot of games.” Crosby still leads the NHL in scoring despite missing six games with a broken jaw.
This guy, who doesn’t have a vote, is wishy-washy. Crosby is a marvelous player who may be able to walk on water and then turn it into wine. We’re frankly a little surprised he hasn’t healed his own jaw already. But the award is for MVP of this season, not overall greatness. Crosby can’t be faulted for his team being strong all season. Ovechkin has lifted his team out of a serious hole, pretty much changed the whole tenor of the Caps’ play. That has to count for something.
From further away, former NHL executive and current NHL Network analyst Craig Button has watched plenty of Caps’ games. He marvels at the way Ovechkin has made some adjustments to his game. While Button won’t come out and declare Ovechkin the MVP at this point, he does say, “There’s no question he has to be one of the three finalists.
“The Alex Ovechkin I am watching today is not the Alex Ovechkin of three years ago. I think he’s better. I think he’s become multidimensional. He’s attacking from all over the ice. He is so much more challenging for defenses and opponents now. He comes at you from so many different ways.”
Button also has Crosby on his list — who wouldn’t? — along with Chicago’s Jonathan Toews. He’s also impressed with the way Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has played.
Button keeps coming back to the new Ovechkin.
“Alex has always been capable of making plays,” Button said. “You watch him come up the ice now, he’s slower sometimes. It isn’t just blazing down the left wing, cut into the middle and shoot. When you’re trying to convince someone they can be more dangerous, they can be better, that takes some time. That takes some convincing.”
That leads Button to another point. Does Washington have another candidate for one of the NHL’s major awards, one with the same initials as Ovechkin? Button pretty much gushes over the job Oates has done to help salvage the Capitals‘ season.
“One thing I haven’t heard is Adam Oates for coach of the year and I think he ought to be in that conversation,” Button said. “Alex has really found his way with Adam Oates. Adam has helped Alex become multidimensional.
“At times, I am leery of guys with no head coaching experience. Adam may be the exception to that rule. What he has done with that team? Brilliant. What I see right now in the Washington Capitals is a dangerous team.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Washington Times sports editor Mike Harris has more than 30 years experience in the business as a reporter, columnist and manager. He’s covered a wide variety of events including two Olympics, horse racing, auto racing, professional and college sports. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow the section on Twitter @WashTimesSports.
- HARRIS: Break but don't bend? Bryce Harper quandary rears its head again for Nats
- HARRIS: Offseason nothing to look forward to for Caps or Wizards
- HARRIS: D.C. not yet spellbound by Wizards, but they're no illusion
- HARRIS: Echoes of 1978 NBA champs in these Wizards
- HARRIS: Wizards have moved to head of D.C.'s class
Latest Blog Entries
- Gio Gonzalez living a dream by throwing bullpen sessions to ex-Yankee Jorge Posada
- Meet Connor Carrick, the youngster who played his way onto the Caps' final roster
- Go Aggies: Nationals notes and lineups for Sept. 14
- RG3: There is no conflict with Redskins coach Mike Shanahan
- Sunday Nats-Dodgers lineups and some thoughts from reliever Craig Stammen
- Boehner rules out impeachment: 'Scam started by Democrats'
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
- PHILLIPS: Once-in-a-century stupidity
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Obama: 'Not a new Cold War,' but new Russia sanctions announced
- Smugglers, rainstorm combine to poke holes in border fence
- Obama's brother wears Hamas scarf bearing anti-Israel slogans in photo
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world