Caps, Ovechkin In First
After defeating the Philadelphia Flyers Wednesday night, the Washington Capitals find themselves in first place in the Southeast Division. This is the latest the Caps have held that position in a season since March 14, 2003.
The team has been on fire since Bruce Boudreau took over, compiling a 20-10-4 record in that span. Boudreau brought a more aggressive style of play with him from Hershey, and the players have really responded - no one more than Alexander Ovechkin.
Following last night's game, Ovechkin has 46 goals and 73 assists, both tops in the NHL. He also leads the league in power play goals (16) and shots (304) and game-winning goals (8).
Ovechkin's not limited to offensive mastery though. Amidst all of the scoring, his 150 hits are good for 9th in the NHL. He plays the game with a toughness that isn't always present for extraordinarily talented players like Alex the Great. Just three games ago, Ovechkin was knocked out of a game with a broken nose, only to return in that same game to score 4 goals and assist on a fifth to bring his team to victory.
A player with these types of numbers could become a head case, but Ovie seems to be able to maintain a levelheaded, down-to-earth approach to the game that really sets the tone for this team. Signing a 9-figure deal might change a few people, but not Alex. Since signing his 13-year contract, Ovechkin has posted 14 goals and 7 helpers - that's 21 points in 12 games.
The Caps hold a 1-point lead in the Southeast with a game in hand over the Thrashers and Hurricanes, and 5 of their next 7 games come against division foes, including 2 against Carolina and 1 against Atlanta. They are far from wrapping anything up, and they'll likely need someone other than Ovechkin to start lighting the lamp if they are going to make any type of play-off run. That being said, they are an exciting team to watch under Boudreau, and a play-off push is not only possible, but it's likely. That's something that hasn't been seriously considered around these parts in quite sometime.
This article was released on 2008-02-07.
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