SILVER SPRING Md.– Alex Ovechkin, the 32-year-old left wing who has been playing for the Washington Capitals since 2001, is often claimed to be the best player on the Capitals and a top player in the National Hockey League (NHL).
In fact, NBC Sports ranked Alex Ovechkin as the “number one Washington Capitals player of all time” for being the franchise leader in goals and points.
He was ranked as the top left-winger in the NHL in 2017 by EA Sports for being “perhaps one of the best goal scorers in NHL history.”
While Ovechkin has undoubtedly had some amazing plays and seasons, in this fan’s mind, he hasn’t been living up to the legend he’s so often portrayed as.
“I admire him. I think he’s a phenomenal player, but I don’t think he’s the best on the team,” said Bianca Martinez Penn, an ardent Caps fan and an Ovechkin skeptic. “I don’t know why they always have him take those [shootouts] because he almost never makes them.”
Compared to some of his fellow team members, Ovechkin has a worse shootout percentage. Nonetheless, he still takes most of the shootouts.
According to NHL player stats, Ovechkin’s shootout percentage for 2018-2017 playoffs is 15.2 percent, while centre Nicklas Backstrom’s in 15.4 percent.
Ovechkin’s shootout percentage of the 2018-2017 season as a whole is currently at 13.8 percent, but forward Evgeny Yevgenyevich Kuznetsov’s is 14.4 percent.
The President of the Caps Fan Club, Lottie Ignacio, concedes that Ovechkin hasn’t been doing very well lately.
“He didn’t have a great year last year, but I think he made a commitment in the off season to to train even harder and lose some weight,” said Ignacio.
He’s scored eight points in the 2017-2018 playoffs as of April 26th. While other players (such as Backstrom and Kuznetsov again) have also scored eight points in the playoffs, they haven’t received nearly as much coverage as Ovechkin.
A quick google search for “Capitals” returns dozens of articles splashed with Ovechkin’s name, but despite having scored the same number of points as Ovechkin in the playoffs, more often than not, Backstrom and Kuznetsov won’t appear in the headlines.
As the playoffs progress and other Caps players continue to prove their mettle on the ice, perhaps it’s time that changes.
“He’s an iconic player for the Capitals,” said Martinez Penn. “But not worth all the hype.”