February 19, 2009
"Easily the best goal of the season to this point, and it's doubtful anybody is going to be able to top it!" - FanHouse
"That's insanity!" - Pierre McGuire
"Tripped onto his fanny, sliding into the big goalie, the GR8 re-secured the loose puck and scooped-shot past Price's pads. On his arse against a great young goalie it's still a mismatch. Bedlam followed. But the best part of the heroism, for me, took place back on the bench, during our savior's recuperation. The camera of course followed him, he recognized his shining moment up on the center ice screens, and he cupped his hand to ear to hear a fresh red ovation!" - On Frozen Blog
I haven't felt this out-of-sync with society since my last argument for why "Babe," the talking pig movie, deserved Best Picture over "Braveheart."
Look, Alexander Ovechkin's goal last night was remarkable for a number of reasons. Like the fact that three different Montreal Canadiens players could all be so incompetent on the same play, for example. But it's not in the same league as the Washington Capitals star's "The Goal" against the Phoenix Coyotes, let alone should it be considered "The Sequel" to it. It's not the best goal of his career, and it may not even be the goal of the season in the NHL thus far.
Allow me to explain.
First, in case you missed it on the Three Stars and various other sources for exemplary highlights, the latest Ovechkin goal-for-the-ages:
It was spiffy, for sure; and his 42nd goal of the season was a game-tying effort in the first period, so it was a game-changing tally as well. But let's take a look at the various facets of the goal:
The Spin-o-rama: Perhaps the best part of the effort, as the Canadiens fail to execute a textbook outlet pass and Ovechkin makes them pay by tapping the puck past defenseman Roman Hamrlik and then spinning back on offense to rush into the zone. He made them look silly here with a solid defensive move.
The Chipchura: Enter Kyle Chipchura, who spends a few seconds of his nine minutes of ice time attempting to defend Ovechkin. McGuire said that Chipchura was "trying to match speed" with Ovechkin, which is a kind way of saying he was waving his stick wildly at the puck like a remedial boy wizard while Ovechkin skated by him. It's difficult to tell if Ovechkin is tripped by Chipchura or if his momentum sent him to the ice. Either way, this is the point at which I'm watching the highlight and thinking, "Well, that was nice of Kyle to play straight man for Ovechkin's latest routine. Because he sure as sugar wasn't playing any defense."
The Shot: As soon as Ovechkin is on his back, we're immediately thinking about "The Goal" from Phoenix. Capitals Kremlin, in its "Goal" vs. "Sequel" debate, claims that Ovechkin is more in control here than he was in Phoenix, which is another way of saying that this goal was less spectacular in its creativity and desperate luck-making. This is a terrific bit of puck control, and Ovechkin's coordination can't be denied. But he actually has a clear look at the goal from his back and enough to time to think about the shot, which makes this goal more mechanical than organic. And then there's the fact that ...
The Goalie: ... Carey Price is more interested in playing the body than playing the puck. Watch the goal a few times, and you can see that Price just blows the save because he's not watching what the shooter is doing with the puck. Sure, it becomes more unpredictable when Ovie hits the ice on his back, but it's not as if he faked Price out of his skates with some moves as he did Brian Boucher on "The Goal."
Was this the goal of the season, hands down and case closed? Again, I feel like the guy who won't eat Indian food: I had more of a visceral thrill watching Richard Zednik's leaping goal against the New York Islanders than I did watching the Ovechkin goal. Maybe it was a better goal; maybe it's because he hasn't had the charmed life Ovechkin has. I don't know.
Look, we're spoiled by this guy. Ovechkin does things that few, perhaps any, other players in NHL history are able to do with this speed, power and god-given talents. Any other player could retire after the goal against the Canadiens knowing that it probably won't get any better than this. In Ovechkin's case, we have a short career that's already a menagerie of this type of logic-defying effort. For example, I'd take No. 8 in this highlight reel of his Top 10 goals (through March 2008) over last night's tally, because he's working harder for it:
Meh. If I were a Capitals fan or in the arena last night or someone that doesn't get "check out the goal of the year!" emails every few days, perhaps the Ovechkin goal would have been the leper-curing miracle some are making it out to be. As it stands, it's a Top 5 highlight for his career ... which could very well mean it'll be out of the Top 10 when this phenom's done working his magic.