This is Barry Melrose, on ESPN 980’s Sports Fix Wednesday afternoon, asked about the league-wide perception of Alex Ovechkin.
“Well look, he got 37 goals, so it’s not been an unbelievably bad year for Alex,” the ESPN analyst said. “But is he still thought of as one of the best players in the world? No. Alex is a good player, everyone would love to have him, he competes hard, he’s a 35-goal scorer. But I don’t think you think of him as Toews or Stamkos or Crosby or Malkin. No, I don’t think he’s thought of in those terms any more.”
I’m not sure if that’s controversial, either, but I’m pretty sure that Caps fans would strongly disagree.
Melrose — who picked the Penguins to win the Stanley Cup — was then asked whether the perception of the Caps as an annual threat to win it all has similarly changed.
“Yeah, it totally changed,” Melrose said. “This team barely made the playoffs this year. How can you think of this team as a team like Pittsburgh? Are they talented? Yeah. You’ve still got Semin, you’ve still got Green, you’ve still got Backstrom, you’ve still got Ovechkin, you’ve still got Carlson, you’ve still got Laich. You’ve still got a lot of great players.
“But they haven’t shown us that they can win as a team or compete. Pittsburgh’s there every year, Philly’s there every year, Chicago’s there every year, Detroit’s there every year, but right now you can’t compare the Washington Capitals to those teams and those programs.”
Melrose also said that Zdeno Chara is “the worst possible matchup” for the Caps, and he seemed quite pessimistic about Washington’s first-round chances.
“Washington has really been a disappointment,” he said. “Obviously that amount of talent and just squeaking into the playoffs, I think everyone thought more of this team. From now on, they’ve got to show me that they are a good team....It’s gonna be a tough job for the Washington Capitals to win this round.”