Alex Ovechkin took a shot at the referring during the playoff series loss against the New York Rangers.
“Not saying there was a phone call, but they wanted Game 7,” Ovechkin said in a Russian interview with Slava Malamud of Sport-Express. “For ratings. You know, lockout, escrow, league must make profit.”
Caps GM George McPhee didn't back away from Ovechkin's assertions.
What we didn’t get a chance to do was go on the power play very often, and it was a real strength of ours,” McPhee said. “It was real good during the season. We didn’t get many power plays during the series, I don’t know why. We had to kill too many penalties, I don’t know why. I didn’t think that part of the game from the league standpoint was all that good. I didn’t like the refereeing, but if you complain about it during the series and you’re accused of trying to gain an edge. If you complain about it after a series is over, then it’s whining and sour grapes.”
The way I see it, it is always easier to blame someone else than yourself. Alex Ovechkin even went as far as saying that it takes more than one guy to win a Championship. He's right. However, when that one guy is making $9 million per season, is the captain of your hockey team, and is portrayed as one of the very best in the NHL, I guess it isn't too hard to expect that he step up with more than just 1 goal and 1 assist in the series. The greatest players put up big numbers and help lift their teams to ultimate success, not just in the regular season, but in the post-season. That is how true, great players, you know, legends are created. The fact of the matter is, Alex Ovechkin failed to record a single point past game two. Wouldn't his implication that the refs not allowing the Caps more power plays be a round about admission that Ovi needs a man advantage to score? Thin ice Alex, thin ice. Making an excuse like the Refs this series does very little to put aside the playoffs flops since 2008. Not much different than prior season. The big time money players failed to show up. Alex Ovechkin was at the front of the line. Good players make excuses, great players produce when it is all on the line.
George McPhee should know better. Then again, he has been the GM for seventeen seasons and delivered one Stanley Cup Playoff final berth, and that was his first season. He blew the team up in 2004 and spent a few years on a rebuild to win a championship. The era of that rebuild is quickly closing and McPhee has little to show for it. Sure, he has division championships. That is it. He has no Conference titles and no Stanley Cup appearances or titles. Isn't that the main goal? If McPhee could not build a roster to compete for the ultimate prize the last 16 years, what makes Ted Leonsis think he can do it next year? Hinting at excuses like too many penalty kills and not enough power plays is a bogus, lame excuse when a GM has little explanation beyond faulty roster construction. Fact is, the Rangers scored on just 2 power plays. Fact is, the begging for power plays, or shall we say the blaming of lack of power plays, only sends the signal that you have little confidence in 5 on 5 play. The penalties did not cause the star players, the big time salary guys to disappear. Penalties did not result in a 5 goal spanking on home ice in Game 7. Fact is, the final fact, the Capitals were dominated on 5 on 5 play. Lack of power plays has little to do with that. The Capitals were shutout the final two games. Where is the answer for that.
Blaming referees for a seven game loss after taking a 2-0 lead is nothing more than embarrassment for the franchise. It also does little to address roster weaknesses and flaws. The best thing Alex Ovechkin, the rest of the Caps and George McPhee can do for themselves is put away the blame and look in the mirror. There you will find the reason for a humiliating first round ouster from the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.