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Posted at 12:01 PM ET, 03/27/2012

Did The Post spark Alex Ovechkin’s surge?


(Jonathan Newton - WASHINGTON POST)

Here’s a fun conversation about Alex Ovechkin’s recent surge from the Caps Insider comments:

The burst of motivation that has propelled Ovi the last few weeks was then a result of something else. Maybe the better question is what would Ovechkin's numbers be if Tarik had written the article sooner. Can we nominate Tarik as Caps MVP this season?

Followed by this:

Second this! There’s no doubt something lit a fire under OV. Regardless of who or what did it, it’s nice to see him playing at 100% again.

Of course, plenty of media members have made similar observations over the past two weeks. Something dramatic seems to have changed. Right around March 11. Hmmmm.

If you haven’t been following, The Post’s Rick Maese and Tarik El-Bashir wrote a lengthy piece, published in print on March 11, titled “What’s Wrong With Ovechkin?”

At that point, the captain had played 64 games this season, and scored 27 goals, a pace of 0.42 goals per game.

Since the story hit print, Ovechkin has played eight more games, and scored nine more goals, a pace of 1.13 goals per game. That’s a pretty big difference.

Before the story, Ovechkin was averaging 3.8 shots per game. Since the story, Ovechkin has averaged 4.4 shots per game.

His nine goals in seven games equals the best seven-game production of his career, while his 10 goals in March are his most in a single month since October of 2009.

Plus, if you watch the games even as a casual fan, before the story Ovechkin played like some other hockey-playing person. Since the story, Ovechkin has played like Alex Ovechkin. Plus, whatever he says, the belly pats seem like a clear wink to the part of the story that detailed his past weight gain.

Now, do you think this is ridiculous? Well, Lindsay Czarniak asked Ovechkin about the line in the story about his mother’s involvement in his career.

“People sometimes just think stupid things,” Ovechkin responded. He didn’t seem particularly amused. Then he went on.

“Sometimes I like to read what people say, bad things or good things about me,” he continued. “Sometimes it’s good way to get more emotion for you. You just read it and say okay, you people think we play bad and it’s my fault, so you just start playing well.”

That isn’t subtle. And I can tell you for sure that other people in that room read that story.

Now, is there any precedent for The Post coming to the aid of the fiery leader of a local team by providing bulletin board material and thus sparking a late-season turnaround? Heck yeah, there is.

Remember the epic three-part series on Gary Williams in late 2009? The last piece ran Feb. 14. At that point, the Terps had lost three of their past four games — one by 19, and one by 41 — and were clinging to their postseason lives. After the series hit, they won five of their next nine games and surged into the NCAA tournament.

“These guys hung together and they had my back, that’s the big thing,” Williams later said. “We talked about it when the articles appeared in The Post, and we just said we were gonna just focus on what we could do, and what we could do was get ready for the next game. We were tough through that whole stretch and it made us a better team. The people that did that really helped us, because it really unified us as a team and made us tough.”

So all you people who say The Post never does anything for local sports fans, you better take it back. All we do is help.

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More on Alex Ovechkin:
On Hockey: A well-timed resurgence
Watch ESPN’s Ovechkin piece
What’s wrong with the Capitals’ superstar? (March 11)
Ovechkin’s belly pat after goal

By  |  12:01 PM ET, 03/27/2012

Categories:  Caps | Tags:  Alex Ovechkin

 
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