Jeff Riger: A Nice Break From The Norm!
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With just 13 games left to go in the NHL regular season the overwhelming tone of every fan and player has got to be…get to the playoffs A.S.A.P. However, I bring you relief at least for the time being as the Wings, even though they are still playing games worth a potential 2 points, those contests get far more entertaining as the next 5 at the Joe feature the Capitals, Penguins, Canucks, Maple Leafs and Blackhawks. After that tough gamut, there will be just 5 games left to go and then that 2nd season which we all crave and can’t wait for.
The Washington Capitals start the fun Wednesday in Detroit and the talk of practice on Tuesday was none other than Alex Ovechkin and how the Wings will have their hands full with arguably the best player in the league. Nick Lidstrom, Nick Kronwall and Jimmy Howard all talked as to how hard Ovechkin is to stop and even when you think you have him stopped, he has the ability to make something out of nothing in no time at all. Howard remembered back to 2002 when he was 17 playing in juniors and Ovechkin had a hat trick on him about half way through the game. I asked Jimmy if he was at least happy that he stopped Ovechkin in the 3rd period and his response was “I didn’t even see the 3rd period.” (he was pulled after 2)
The Capitals are riding a league best 8 game win streak and with Ovechkin coming on strong after his slow start Washington seems unstoppable which is something that the Wings are salivating to put an end to. But as far as Ovechkin goes, I wonder if he is the top guy in the NHL that you would pay to see? With Sidney Crosby being out with the concussion issue and Steven Stamkos being so young that maybe everybody doesn’t fully realize how good he is. I would assume that Ovechkin would be the number one most anticipated man in the game. I think Ovechkin is top 5 in the league with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Crosby and Martin St. Louis and he is the one guy that you hardly see in person. I have always believed that the NHL needs to find a way have every team face every other team at least twice a season but that right now doesn’t happen resulting in seeing Ovechkin maybe once every two years. So I ask you, how many people at the Joe tomorrow will be there to see Ovechkin and how many people would have been there anyhow? I really think it could be 50/50. In my lifetime I have shelled out top dollar to see the greats like Roger Clemons, Ricky Henderson, Michael Jordan, and Wayne Gretzky. Is Ovechkin in that same class just yet? I say absolutely!
Listen to the Wings try to end the Capitals 8 game winning streak Wednesday at 7:10pm on “the Ticket.” Also check out the videos below for players and Mike Babcock’s reaction to playing against Ovechkin.