Thursday, March 26, 2009

Marksman or Marked man?

When Alexander Ovechkin takes to the ice Friday night more than a few eyes will be watching the Tampa Bay bench, wondering if bygones are bygones or if a little frontier justice NHL style is in store for the evenings match.

The reunion of the Caps and Bolts has been a much anticipated affair ever since they last met, a night which saw the Russian sniper celebrate his fiftieth goal of the season with as they say a little too much mustard for his hot dog.

On that night, Ovechkin channeled the spirit of Jimi Hendrix and mimicked a hockey stick burning up, too hot to touch, a move that didn't exactly endear him to the Lightning, some of his own team mates and the high priest of NHL hockey Don Cherry.

The controversy over Ovechkin celebrations has reached a fever pitch these days, with his hi jinks a frequent topic of discussion on coach's corner and apparently the main fodder for Toronto based sports reporters at least if Capital's coach Bruce Boudreau has his research in place.

Boudreau has become just a little bit exasperated over the many questions about Ovechkin and his enthusiastic embrace of on ice success, so much so that Thursday provided for one of the more long winded of rants of late when it comes to the topic of the young Russian star.

Over on the other side of the night's debate we can find Rick Tocchet, the Lightning's head coach who was more than clear about his displeasure over the Ovechkin celebration close as it was to the Lightning's goaltender.

For Friday however, Tocchet isn't talking so much as any one on one approach to Ovechkin, more to the game plan is an overall outline that the Lightning need to shut down the entire Capital's team, having failed to take even one game from them so far this season, Friday offers them the opportunity to do more than seek a little personal vengeance, instead they can take some points away from Washington and make their positioning in the upcoming playoff season something that still may be up for debate.

While they may still be a little annoyed at Ovechkin's contortions from March 19th, the best way to keep him from doing them again is to keep both he and his team mates off the score sheet. That would go a long way towards sending him a message and it won't result in any lost time in the penalty box or beyond.

In the end, one has to wonder if perhaps Ovechkin may one day be the test case for an NFL style rule in the NHL over taunting, where a two minute penalty may follow any over exuberance in the celebration department, providing for a period of silent reflection for the celebrator to ponder his over excitable ways.

Globe and Mail-- Boudreau rips media over Ovechkin celebration
Globe and Mail-- Tocchet wants win over Caps
Washington Post-- Ovechkin's Celebration Already 'a Done Deal'
Washington Post-- TSN Arrives, Boudreau Goes Off

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