Just like Victor Fedorov said: I think that the trade to Canada is not good for Ovechkin. There he'll get such a pressure that you won't get in a quiet Washington even in a nightmarish dreams.
One bad night and the vultures are all over...
Here are the headlines from Montreal:
Don't expect Caps' Ovechkin to be great every night.
New contract cranks up pressure. Only ninth time this season superstar has failed to register at least a point
Canadiens clamp down on Caps star.
HERB ZURKOWSKY, The Gazette, Jan. 30:
"I thought he (Ovechkin) was stifled a bit," said Washington coach Bruce Boudreau, 17-9-4 since replacing Glen Hanlon on Nov. 22. "He had a great chance. When a team's checking him tight, he usually puts one in. He hit the post. It was a great shot, but he hit the post.
"They did a great job of containing him. We only had two power plays, and none during the last two periods. That takes away his scoring chances."
Ovechkin, the NHL's scoring leader with 39 goals, was used extensively. He played 22 minutes and nine seconds, more than any Washington player, except defenceman Milan Jurcina. Ovechkin had 21 shifts and registered four shots on net.
While he did strike the post early in the second period, when his team trailed 3-0, it was hardly a vintage performance.
Perhaps that's the problem. The 22-year-old phenom was signed three weeks ago to a 13-year, $124-million U.S. contract extension, adding to the pressure and expectations placed on the first overall draft choice in 2004.
Ovechkin is expected to be brilliant every game, and he wasn't on this night.
The 6-foot-2, 217-pounder is no stranger to physical play. But the Canadiens checked him closely, especially in the opening period, when Steve Bégin, Mike Komisarek and Tom Kostopoulos put a beating on him. Ovechkin had a cut and red welt under his left eye after the game.
"Of course, it's disappointing when you don't play well and you don't win," Ovechkin said. "It's hard to say what beat us. They scored three goals (in the opening 20 minutes, including one while shorthanded). We can't play like this on the power play. We can't make mistakes in our own zone.
"It wasn't our game."
RED FISHER, The Gazette, Jan. 30:
I have never had to buy a ticket to watch hockey's great players. The truly great ones keep you young, but I've got to admit that on some nights I would pay to watch Alexander Ovechkin.
On most nights, he is everything this beautiful game is all about. Spectacular goals. A blur on skates. Never gives an inch. Blessed with a big-time shot. Fearless. Shift in, shift out, he leaves nothing on his plate. And it appears he plays with pure joy.
He is, in every way, what the franchise player should be.
Not last night, folks.
It happens to the best of them - and last night, it happened to Ovechkin because the checking line of Bégin, Tom Kostopoulos and Bryan Smolinski wrapped an iron fist around him.
The Canadiens' high point of the season came Thursday in New Jersey, where they rallied for three goals in the third period en route to a 4-3 win. If you suggested holding The 124 Million Dollar Man pointless was another moment to remember, you'd get no argument from me.
Just one bad night and Montreal media is all over you...
Frankly I was very impressed with Canadiens. They were fast, they outhit Caps which was a big surprise for me after the Caps' physical domination over Leafs. They gave Caps the taste of their own medicine, their forecheck was what BB ordered for Caps. Habs dominated in every aspect of the game not to mention great goaltending from Huet. Now I wouldn't be surprised if they would beat Caps again.
"We have to beat them," Ovechkin said. "We have to learn from our mistakes."
Now it's time for a payback. Let's see how Alex Ovechkin and Caps will respond and what Caps are really worth tomorrow.