Alex Ovechkin: "It was a tough series"
Following the embarrassment of the Capitals’ most lopsided playoff loss in 15 years and the anguish of shaking hands with a team that just humiliated him, Alex Ovechkin blamed the referees, then blamed himself and his teammates for the Caps’ first-round loss to the New York Rangers.
“I am not saying there was a phone call from [the NHL], but someone just wanted Game 7,” Ovechkin told Russian sports-daily Sport Express following Monday night’s 5-0 loss, the Caps’ worst playoff defeat since a 6-1 setback to the Ottawa Senators in the second round of the 1998 playoffs.
“For the ratings; you know, the lockout, escrow, the league needs to make profit.”
For the record, the Rangers were awarded 28 power plays in the seven-game series and scored twice on the man-advantage. The Capitals were awarded 16 power plays and scored three times.
Were there calls missed over the course of seven games? Absolutely. There always are when two teams are going at it the way the Caps and Rangers did over the course of 13 nights.
But to suggest the series was officiated with the hopes of boosting ratings for a Game 7, well, that’s just sour grapes.
The Rangers were not the least penalized team in the regular season because they are a soft team. It’s because they initiate instead of retaliating. Led by Ryan Callahan’s 35 body checks, the Rangers dished out 287 hits over those seven games – 43 more than Washington – and baited the Capitals into retaliatory penalties that, in the words of Troy Brouwer, “killed us.”
Ovechkin led the Capitals with 34 hits and was one of the most disciplined players on the ice with two minor penalties, although Rangers coach John Tortorella thought Ovechkin deserved one when he railroaded Ryan McDonagh into the boards in the first period Monday night.
But the truth of the matter is that the Rangers frustrated the Capitals with their relentless barrage of hits.
“It’s a big part of playoff hockey,” Tortorella said. “All year long we’ve been a pretty disciplined team. Ovechkin was trying to get his team going. I think it’s a penalty – it is a penalty -- but it’s part of the game. We talked about, because their power play is so good, being a tough team in the playoffs and taking a hit to make a play.”
To Ovechkin’s credit he eventually turned the blame from the officials to himself and his teammates. The 27-year-old captain was held to just one goal and one assist and was a minus-2 in seven games.
“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “That’s the whole point; you have to win the games and try to win the Cup.
“We have a great coaching staff and a good group of guys who support each other. It doesn’t matter what happens, we’re not yelling at each other, nobody was pointing fingers like it’s your fault we lose the game.
“It’s everybody’s fault. All guys are at fault. My fault, Backie [Nicklas Backstrom], Ribs [Mike Ribeiro]— everybody. It’s not about one person or two persons, it’s about the team. We didn’t get team success in Game Seven and Game Six. It’s blame on us.”