It didn’t take Scott Walker long to realize he drew the short straw when it came to being assigned a locker at Kettler Capitals Iceplex after being traded by the Carolina Hurricanes to the Washington Capitals.
The stall directly to his left belongs to Alex Ovechkin
, and that means there are going to be many days during this postseason run for the Capitals that Walker will not be able to access his locker if Ovechkin is around. That’s because the media spotlight shines so intensely on Ovechkin, as the crowd that forms around his stall overflows and restricts guys like Walker and Nicklas Backstrom
If Ovechkin minds the focus and the pressure being on him, he doesn’t show it.
“I want to win. I don't want to prove anything in particular, I just want to win,” Ovechkin said. “If I don't play well and the team wins, I don't care what people say because I just want to win.”
Ovechkin has plenty to gain as captain of the Capitals during this postseason march. In his personal rivalry with Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, there is only one number that matters to some, and that number is one – as in Crosby has one Stanley Cup ring and one Olympic gold medal. Ovechkin has neither.
Despite their careers not being five years old yet, some members of the hockey media have started to hold Ovechkin’s lack of ultimate team success against him.
“I think [Ovechkin and Crosby] are still too young,” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I think this is only been the second year that he’s been on a really good team. I think in only one other year has Alex been on a team that had a chance to win, and we made it to the seventh game of the second round and lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champions. If they were both 30, then you could do that.”
Ovechkin has certainly done his part to help lead the Capitals to the position they are in. He has become a better passer, finishing with a career-high 59 assists this season, and Boudreau knows Ovechkin can be trusted defensively when the time calls for it.
Then there is his record as captain. It is hard to argue with the results – Washington finished the regular season 30-4-7 after the “C” was stitched onto Ovechkin’s sweater before the team’s contest Jan. 5 against Montreal.
“I think we have good experience, and we can stay calm and don't show our emotion and energy right away,” Ovechkin said. “The last couple of years in the playoffs we didn't have a lot of emotion in the games because we gave it to [the media], and we gave it in practice. We have to just stay calm and concentrate on the game.”