Monday, March 1, 2010

Caps Vancouver Scorecard: How'd They Do?

Sidney Crosby scores the gold medal-winner while Alex Ovechkin gets torch duty at the closing ceremony. That's about all you need to know about how the Olympics ended if you're a Caps fan. But let's not let one sour ending obscure the fact that this was an incredible tournament for fans of hockey, both new and veteran; there's no better advocate for the game than the game itself when it's played in such a fashion.

But what about the players the Caps sent to Vancouver? Five players represented three countries, and all are returning to Washington without medals of any kind; raise your hand if you picked Sami Lepisto to medal over Ovechkin and I'll give you a loonie.

Take a bow, Lars. [NHL]

Now that the games are behind us, let's review the Olympic exploits of the Washington contingent and rate them, figure-skating style, based on expectations:

Semyon Varlamov, Russia - 10.0
The young Russian didn't play a single minute at the Olympics, and that's just as the Caps wanted it. He was there to learn while not getting re-injured, and watching games from the press box next to Vlad Tretiak isn't a bad way to do that. Incidentally, the Caps first player back from Vancouver made 30 saves for Hershey last night, so it appears that he's finding his game. Let's hope all that knowledge turns into wins in D.C. come April.

Nicklas Backstrom, Sweden - 9.1
Many observers expected the Olympics to be Backstrom's Bäckström's turn in the spotlight, and the young Swede did not disappoint, leading his team in scoring (1G, 5A) while averaging around 19 minutes in six games, without taking a single penalty. More impressively, it appears the young Swede has firmly planted himself as Sweden's top pivot, skating more minutes than Henrik Sedin and Henrik Zetterberg. For a national team that prides itself in skill down the middle as the Swedes do, that's worth celebrating (and rewarding with a long-term deal).

Tomas Fleischmann, Czech Republic - 6.2
Not a bad showing for Flash, who posted three points (1G, 2A) in five games while skating second- and third-line minutes for a plucky Czech squad that was ultimately bounced by Ovechkin's shoulderRussia. He played mostly at center, but it will be interesting to see if he stays there when the Caps take the ice on Wednesday in Buffalo.

Alex Ovechkin, Russia - 4.5
Perhaps the most hyped player in the tournament, from gap-toothed grin to flame-adorned skates, Ovechkin registered two goals, two assists, one symbolic hit for the ages and one unproductive shootout, while averaging more than 18 minutes in four games for a dysfunctional, miserably-coached Russian squad, of which he was the face. That's the good news. The bad news: Ovechkin's off-ice behavior, primarily an embarrassing camera-shoving incident, has damaged his off-ice image worse than his team's on-ice performance against Canada. For a fan base that takes anything negative written about Ovechkin as a personal affront, that matters in this equation, if not on the ice. Oh, and now it's Crosby 2, Ovechkin 0. Your move, Alex.

Alexander Semin, Russia - 3.1
A disappointing tournament for Ovechkin's linemate, but what were you really expecting? Yes, he showed nice chemistry with Ovechkin on occasion, and yes, his pass to Evgeni Malkin for the goal of the olympics was a thing of beauty, but twice the number of PIMs (4) as points (2) is simply unacceptable...and yet, not entirely unexpected either. Sigh. But on the plus side: Semin can throw his weight around when it matters least!


  1. -Caps -8.5 for no injuries?
    -Mike Green -1.0 for Canada winning the gold without him?

  2. I'd give Ovie a 1.0 - the only thing saving him from a zero was the hit against Jagr. I could not possibly have envisioned a worse Olympic experience for him, between Russia's letdown, his mediocre play, his relationship with the international media, and finally, Crosby's game winner.

    Fuck Sidney Crosby. Just fuck that guy.

  3. Two things stood out in these Olympics:

    1. The media coverage of the event and even the death of the Georgian was HORRIBLE.

    2. Watching hockey as a casual fan, it seems there are only two people who play Crosby and Ovechkin. Forget about the players from the other teams. My husband and I were actually interested in watching hockey but in every game those two names would come up. I've heard friend say that this is a team game but from what I've seen, read and heard this game seems to be about only two individuals.
    I must admit it is a fun game to watch if you understand it, but the impression I got from this olympics about hockey and the name calling by the media leaves me with a bad outlook of the sport.
    Thanks to all the hockey players who participated. It was fun to watch with friends.

  4. The thing that gets me is that to say it's Sidney Crosby's victory over Ovi is a slap in the face of the teams he's played with. Up to now, Crosby has had the benefit of better teams and, to be honest, some refereeing biased in his favor. Both of the awards you're talking about are team awards, not individual ones, so I think it's a little stupid and unfair to the teams in question to say that it's Crosby's victory alone. He had help, and lots of it.

  5. @anonymous: I know what you mean. They're trying to use the Sid/Ovi rivalry to sell the game, and it really does the other players a disservice.

  6. I was probably a bit generous with Ovie, but to be fair, he was still the best player on his team. That, plus the hit, I thought, should get him somewhere.

  7. Whether we like it or not, this space, that's how the hockey world perceives it. Since the two players are so close in terms of regular season accolades, what's the only thing that separates them? Championships do matter in the long run.

  8. Ex-Caps:

    Ron Wilson - 10.0. The U.S. and Canada were the two best teams in the tournament by far. The U.S. has Ryan Miller and Wilson to thank. The U.S. was motivated and played hard the whole way. His line combos worked brilliantly (how about that Kane, Kesler, Brown line in the final?) and this team had a magical chemistry.

    Peter Bondra - 9.0. The GM of the Slovak team that made the medal round for the first time ever. He suited up before the Russia game as a motivational tool, and it apparently worked as they came up big with the upset. Also, the Slovaks had the best unis in the tourney, by far. A Bondra 12 Slovakian jersey would be sweet.

    Jurcina - 8.5. He was a physical force and played the important minutes for the Slovaks. And now he's on the trade block again in CBO!

    Sami Lepisto - 5.0. Solid, but part of the problem as the Finns' puny D squad got pummeled by the U.S. forwards in the semis.

    Kozlov - negative 4. He potted one against the Czeks but was otherwise dreadful, loafing on a backcheck on the Canadians' goal that opened the floodgates. He also served as a prime example of Russia's arrogance in building this squad: the Russian brass cared more about proving the strength of the KHL than putting together a team that could win this tournament. Kozlov is just a gutless over-the-hill skill player at this point.

    Fedorov - 1.0. Nonfactor. Shouldn't have been on the team either.

  9. Ron Wilson -1.0 for failing to let Bobby Ryan near the ice in key situations that would have made the difference for the U.S. He was not used on the power play much (where he excells) and he got not one second overtime play. The kid has more goals than his Duck mate Getzlaf. Wilson blew it.

  10. Wilson blew it by leading an undermanned U.S. team to a 5-1 record and the Silver? Mr. Medvedev is on the phone; he wants to talk to you re: your definition of 'blew it.'


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