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It seems that everybody's "picking" on Alex Ovechkin these days. You can't watch a nationally televised NHL broadcast anymore without somebody taking a shot at the Caps captain and pointing out what he's not doing right or, more importantly, what he's doing wrong.
The parade of critics includes Pierre McGuire, Ray Ferraro and Mike Milbury and that's just the short list.
But let's face it, "The Great Eight" isn't so great these days. He's just not doing the little things that you expect a superstar (let alone a captain who is supposed to be a leader) to do. He's supposed to lead by example but right now he's just not doing the job.
Watching Ovi allow a Rangers player to skate past him without checking him or slowing him down in any way was just one of many examples. It led directly to a goal and a Washington loss.
So now Caps coach Adam Oates is defending his star player, saying among other things that, "I don't like when ex-players talk about players," and saying the media, "focuses on the mistakes" that Ovi makes.
Well, guess what? That's the media's job. To analyze the game and break it down so fans can understand the good plays and mistakes that players make during a game. It's also to help point out to fans what they don't necessarily pick up on while watching the game.
The same way it's Oates' job to protect his star player when the media is critical of him.
But here's the biggest enemy Alex Ovechkin is facing: Alex Ovechkin.
Ovechkin has nine goals and 20 points in 24 games, not horrible numbers but nowhere near the Alex Ovechkin that dominated the league for the first five or six years of his career.
That Alex Ovechkin played the game with unabashed enthusiasm and reckless abandon, throwing body checks as often as he scored goals. The Alex Ovechkin on the ice today is just a shell of his former self.
The media isn't creating the problem, they are merely pointing it out. If Adam Oates wants to get to the root of the problem, he doesn't need Ovechkin to watch TV or read the newspapers. He needs him to look in the mirror and find the fire that used to burn within him and made him a special player.
It's not too late for that to happen, but if Oates and the Capitals are going to make the playoffs this season, it better happen soon.