On Saturday, the New York Islanders will welcome the Washington Capitals to the Nassau Coliseum. And the league-leading Caps might be without Alex Ovechkin.
Alex Ovechkin is going to have to sit one game as punishment for deciding to skip on this season’s All-Star Game. And it seems that the team is deciding between Saturday against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum, or Monday, January 27 against the Montreal Canadiens.
There isn’t much of an advantage in choosing either game. Both would give Ovechkin a ten-day break between games. Not so secretly, and for obvious reasons, I hope they pick the Islanders game to have him sit out.
Ovechkin has nearly a point per game in his career against the Islanders with 36 goals and 55 points in 56 games. It would be a huge advantage for the Islanders if he wasn’t on the ice.
He Gets to Pick?
Yes, the Capitals (and by extension Ovechkin) get to pick what game Ovi sits out as part of his punishment for skipping the All-Star Game. Which makes the suspension all the more ridiculous and meaningless. He’s skipping the game to take a break and the NHL is facilitating that with the one-game suspension.
I’m not saying Ovi needs a larger punishment here. He’s paid his dues to the All-Star game at this point. He’s entertained the crowds year-after-year at the All-Star game. But it’s clear the NHL’s “punishment” for skipping the event isn’t incentivizing some of the biggest stars to go.
Hopefully, the Capitals pick this Saturday’s game against the Islanders for Ovi to sit out. But I fear a divisional game against a team not far behind them in the standings (seven points) and with Pittsburgh even closer (four points) is going to be too much for the Caps to have Ovi sit on Saturday.
Playing at the Bell Center is always special for players, but the Habs aren’t the team they used to be with seven points out of a playoff spot. A game against the Habs doesn’t carry the same weight as a game on Long Island does.
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So fingers crossed that the Capitals pick Saturday’s game against the Islanders. I understand the argument that you want to play against the best there is. But with the parity in this league you take any advantage you can get, and Ovi being out is an advantage, even if it’s a marginal one.