Monday, November 09, 2015

The Fedorov versus Ovechkin discussion

Alex Ovechkin lands in Detroit tied with his Russisan countryman Sergei Fedorov as the most prolific Russian goal scorer in the NHL. Ovie scored his 483 goal against the Toronto Maples Leafs. The amazing thing is that he scored those goals in 772 games while it took Fedorov 1,248 games to reach the same mark. Think about that. Ovie nets goals in an era when goaltenders are far stingier than they used to be and it took him 476 less games to hit the mark. Fedorov is rooting for Ovechkin.

To be fair to Fedorov, he played center, not winger so it is no surprise that he has more assists than Ovie, at this point, with 696 to Ovie’s 428 assists. Ovie’s assist numbers would be much higher today if was passing to wingers who actually shot the puck instead of fumbling his pass. Working with a talent like T.J. Oshie on Ovie’s right wing helps with that challenge. Fedorov never had that challenge passing to his Russian Five teammates, Igor Larionov and Vyacheslav Kozloz.

Ovie and Fedorov are very different players. Ovie is the pure goal scorer in an era where it is difficult to score goals. Goalies are trained and coached like all players today, which was not true in the Wayne Gretzky days. Ovie plays smash mouth hockey. He is not a finesse hockey player, but he is a blast to watch. His highlight reel goals show his skill and effort to get that puck off his stick, even if he is falling to the ice or being harassed by a defender, and past the goalie in a flash before the goalie knows what happens. This is Alex Ovechkin’s gift.   

Fedorov was the two-way complete player that won two Selke trophies and three Stanley Cups. His line mates and defensemen, Vladimir Konstantinov and Viacheslav Fetisov made up Coach Scotty Bowman’s innovation, the Russian Five, that teams did not know how to defend. That line focused on puck control, as it seems, the Red Wings still do today. The Russian Five contributed to Detroit’s first Stanley Cup in 42 years.

Both players won the Hart and the Lester B. Pearson, but the bottom line is they are different. Smash mouth sniper Ovechkin versus elite two-way player Fedorov. The NHL will never forget either of them because Alex Ovechkin will follow Sergei Fedorov into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Let’s go Caps!

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