Through 12 seasons, he has six Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard trophies, three Hart trophies, and countless Washington Capitals records. However Alex Ovechkin’s NHL career will be defined by zero appearances in the Conference Finals. On Wednesday for the ninth time in his career, Ovechkin’s postseason ended prematurely. And despite all the accolades on arguably the second-most decorated NHL career in over a decade, Ovechkin’s legacy will be have two sad lasting images that may follow him from now on.
In a tightly contested 1-0 game, Ovechkin had the opportunity of a lifetime to deliver on the game-tying goal late in the second-period. Air is all that stood in between him and Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Ovechkin fired off a one-timer that was headed top-shelf. However, as if the hockey gods were speaking, Fleury got just enough of the shaft of his stick up to redirect the puck, robbing Ovechkin of a much needed goal.
Fleury robbed Ovechkin with the shaft of his stick, magnificent save (with a hint of luck) pic.twitter.com/hJfvnlibuC
— Shayne Pasquino (@shaynepasquino) May 11, 2017
As Fleury rubbed his stick thanking it, another marred entry, another line, and another sentence was written in the book of Ovechkin.
Things got worse for Ovechkin and Capitals. In the third period with the score still 1-0. Kevin Shattenkirk tried to bounce the puck of the boards. Unfortunately Ovechkin nonchalantly whiffed trying to control the puck with his stick. The Penguins were able to keep the puck in the offensive zone and Patric Hornqvist deposited the loose puck behind Capitals goalie Braden Holtby to give Pittsburgh a commanding 2-0 lead.
Failed clear by Ovechkin leads to Patric Hornqvist goal. 2-0 Pens. pic.twitter.com/jjzNtuomNZ
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) May 11, 2017
Following another disappointing to end to their season — the Capitals have now lost 10 times in 11 playoff series against the Penguins — Ovechkin was described to be devastated.
Ovechkin was at a loss for words when asked if he believed he and the Capitals could get past the second round into the Conference Finals.
“We try,” Ovechkin said per J.J. Regan of CSN Mid-Atlantic. “Try do our best.”
Unfortunately, it appears that Ovechkin’s best in the playoffs is not good enough. After posting his lowest goal total (32) in a non-lockout shortened season since 2010-11, Ovechkin struggled through the postseason. He tallied his lowest postseason point total (8) since 2012-13. After failing behind the Penguins 3-1 in the series, coach Barry Trotz shifted Ovechkin primarily to the third line.
Forget the individual accomplishments, he will forever be compared to other greats and their success with championships. His legacy will forever be hurt by his era’s counterpart, Sidney Crosby. Crosby’s Penguins have eliminated Ovechkin and the Capitals three times in three playoff meetings. Crosby has two Stanley Cup titles, and will be searching for a third as Pittsburgh advances.
Meanwhile, there is a lot of uncertainty hovering over Ovechkin. Are the Capitals better off without him? Can he ever lead the Capitals to the promise land? The answers to those questions can only be answered with time. Until the narrative is changed, Ovechkin’s legacy is defined by yet another disappointing postseason loss.