Friday, December 28, 2007

Same Old, Same Old

Reading the headlines the morning after, one would get the sense that Sidney Crosby outdueled Alex Ovechkin to lead his team to a win.

Anyone who watched that game, Caps fan or Pens fan, would have to respectfully disagree.

That's not to say that Ovie came out on top, either. He finished the night with a goal and a +2, Crosby had two assists and a +1. Both respectable stats for a game that saw each of them have a few chances and a few good shifts...but neither player dominated this game.

This game was in fact a workshop on how to shut down a superstar, a clinic on how to take away time and space. Neither one had much room to maneuver, although being the phenomenal talent that each of them is, they were able to create that room when it was needed the most. When your offense for the night consists of names like Taffe (who?) and Brashear and Pothier and Armstrong...this ain't a battle of the number one draft picks that the NHL seems to want so badly.

I'm not sure when, if ever, the NHL and the media will decide to stop making this into the Ovechkin vs. Crosby show. If anything the likelihood goes down with every meeting that games between these two teams will end up panning out that way. Sure, they have different styles, but you have to think that practicing with Sidney Crosby gives you a better idea of how to shut down Ovechkin - and vice versa. Learn how to take away time and space from someone and you're going to take the power away from any forward.

Yesterday in the gameday preview I mocked how much the commentators love to drool over Crosby, and the same can probably be said (to a lesser extent) for Ovechkin. It's understandable. Two amazing talents cannot be denied. But at what point do we start recognizing the real heroes of a game, even when they're not named Ovechkin or Crosby?

Last night the Penguins got an overtime winner from Gonchar, who had a horrible game otherwise but more than made up for it by...well, winning the game. Evgeni Malkin was everywhere and took more than a few bone-rattling checks from Ovechkin while still making plays and Taffe (WHO?) came out of nowhere to get the Pens on the board early.

For the Caps you had Brashear with an absolutely dominant first period that included a fight and a goal. Then there was Nicklas Backstrom, who continues to thrill and basically created two of the Caps three goals just by being his hard-working, talented self. And Boyd Gordon, returning from an injury that kept him out most of December, slipped right back into his old role of shutdown master, keeping Crosby virtually silent for a majority of the game.

Oddly enough not one of them, with the exception of Gonchar (OT goals are sexier than just being a talented hockey player, I guess) shows up in the headlines. Instead we get things like "Crosby Outduels Ovechkin" and "Crosby Leads Pens Over Ovechkin" and so on and so forth. It almost makes you think they've just got headlines already written regardless of how the game turns out.

Guess what, members of the mainstream media, AP headline writers, whoever you are - it's been three years now. Enough is enough.

All photos courtesy of AP


Dan, Jr. said...

Lovely rant CC. Couldn't agree with you more. But, I'm afraid the perveyours of propaganda will never change and never go away. They don't have any imagination or any chance of deserved pride in their "craft". Most infuriating of all, they see their audience as witless and unintelligent.

Chris & Sarah said...

And to make matters worse, when you look at the 3 stars for the game, Crosby was the #1 star, for only getting a measly 2 assists. Gonchar wasn't even considered. Backstrom was #2 and Sydor was #3.

Even during that lopsided loss to Philly a couple of weeks ago He of the puffy lips got a game star when he only got one secondary assist.

And I'm beginning to wonder if it is league policy to issue Crosby assists for any Pens goal scored when he is on the ice.

But when you listen to the comments about the Caps, there isn't as much hype over Ovie as there was in the previous two seasons. If the reduction is due to the poor team showing and the change in coaches, or just because the Washington press is recognizing that there is more to our team than one player it is hard to tell. But I know that the Ovie / Puffy Lips hype has worn thin, especially when you consider that neither is on top of the standings, and each is ahead of the other in goals vs assists, but both are behind others.

But try telling that to the Sid-ombies back home in Nova Scotia. (God, only 5 days left until the Sid love nightmare is over, but damn seemed like it was a short Christmas vacation).

PaV said...

CC - they have to say that. He is Sid the kid. The messiah of hockey.

Elly said...

But at what point do we start recognizing the real heroes of a game, even when they're not named Ovechkin or Crosby?

Now, I'm the first one to say how much I frickin' love Sidney Crosby. I do. The man is amazing on the ice. The media is also the equivalent of a dog sniffing a bitch in heat when it comes to him - insane and might try humping your leg. Sid is good, he played well last night (if a bit quiet), but your sentence above sums up the whole situation: what about the rest of the frickin' team? I like Ovechkin too, he's a speedy devil and I will freely admit to being just a little in love with watching him skate, but the rest of the Caps deserve a bit of love. Sure, it's not as nuts as in Pittsburgh, but the general idea to appreciate the rest of the team stands. Even though Gonch got that goal, his play wasn't '3 Star' material last night...most players were average, if NHL players can be labeled as such. It was a tight game, must make choosing stars difficult.

On a side note, I have to heartily agree that I am sick and tired of hearing about 'Crosby and Ovechkin'. I saw them interact only once with any real meat. What about Brashear? Armstrong? Letang? They had better stories of the night.

And now that I have ranted a bit, nice post, CC!

Pookie said...

But when you listen to the comments about the Caps, there isn't as much hype over Ovie as there was in the previous two seasons.

Maybe this is because in the past two seasons, Sid's led his team to the playoffs and won a Hart Trophy and the Art Ross. Ovie... hasn't.

Great post, CC! As a fan of interchangeable parts (see what I did just there?) I whole-heartedly support the call for more love for the team as a whole rather than just defaulting to the superstars.