It’s not every day that a head coach claims his star scorer and team captain “quit” on a play on home ice during a playoff race. Of course, it’s not every day that said captain doesn’t score at even strength for a month and has a league-worst plus/minus rating of minus-36, which we’re sure is a factor in that call-out too.
That’s Ovechkin, skating hard for about a millisecond at the end. He had plenty of fuel left having coasted the rest of the play.
So did he talk to Oates about this?
“Um, no,” he said after Friday’s pregame skate in New Jersey.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t see him and I kind of lost the position, so it is what it is. We make lots of mistakes. It’s not about the one mistake,” he said. (Him, we assume, was Ray Whitney charging to the net.)
But your coach called you out for quitting. Isn’t that, like, bad and stuff?
“It is what it is. He’s the head coach. In that moment, like, I think everyone quit the play. You get upset about what’s happened before. We had that kind of game. We’re supposed to play better but we didn’t,” he said.
Watch the play again. Ovechkin has a point: Sure, he quit on the play, but so did Mikael Grabovski! And Mike Green looked like he was covering three guys on the ice and one on the bench.
But still, it doesn’t change the fact that Ovechkin quit on the goal. It was the Dallas Stars’ fourth of the night. Keep that in mind when reading Ovechkin’s last comment on QuitterGate:
“When they scored two goals right away, it killed the momentum and it killed our chances,” he said.
Well if that doesn’t speak volumes. The two goals the Stars scored were at 9:16 and 9:50 of the third period, making it a 3-0 game with half the game to go. It “killed the Capitals’ chances” though, which then leads to boo-boo-faced defense in the third period.
Why haven’t the Capitals played for a conference title in the years Ovechkin’s been there? Many factors, but that mindset in the face of adversity is without question one of them.