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It Is Possible To Criticize Alex Ovechkin Sensibly

Contrary to popular belief, most Washington Capitals fans don't believe Alex Ovechkin should be immune to criticism. I know it seems that way, because Caps fans are notorious for reacting harshly to articles that bash the guy, but it's not true. We can criticize him if it's appropriate.

It just has to be the kind of criticism that's nuanced and multi-layered. The problem with most mainstream critiques of Ovechkin is that they're really unfair. Ovechkin gets bashed for not winning a title, even though he's doing far more to help his team than, say, Sidney Crosby. He gets destroyed for supposedly being a dirty player, even though going all out is exactly what's made him into the superstar he is. Etc. 

Rarely do we see criticism of Ovechkin that's actually legitimate. This post by SB Nation's Caps blog Japers Rink is the exception to the rule.

The article is a wrap-up of Ovechkin's season, so it recaps the positives and the negatives equally. Under the negatives, there's this point:

But in the first ten minutes of Game 5, when the Caps had the Canadiens down 3-1 and entering one of the loudest arenas in hockey, Alex Ovechkin, the lead-by-example captain, was, to put it mildly, indifferent to the defensive side of the game. And it cost his team twice. Instead of killer instinct, the only thing that died that night was the Caps' momentum, and Ovechkin would finish the series with just one goal and one assists over the last three games. Throw in an appropriate share of culpability for the teams dreadful postseason power-play, and those ten points are tempered quite a bit... and so is Alex Ovechkin's 2009-10 season.    

It's probably a bit unfair to pin the entire series collapse on Ovechkin, but that's not the point being made. The only point here is that Ovechkin could have come out stronger in Game 5, and he didn't. Clearly, it's not all his fault that the Caps blew the 3-1 lead, but that stretch didn't help matters. You'll notice that there are no bold proclamations about how he isn't a winner, or how he's a dirty player, or how he's a jerk. Instead, it's a specific critique of one stretch of bad hockey.

Take notes, mainstream media talking heads. This is how you criticize Alex Ovechkin sensibly.