Alexander Ovechkin has performed at the World Cup in much the same way he performs as the franchise player for the Washington Capitals. You could take that one of two ways.
On the one hand, you’ve got a guy who after 3 tournament games is one of 13 players tied for 2nd place in tournament scoring (1G, 2A, 3P). His one goal came in the first game, which was a loss to Sweden. He almost had a second goal in the dying seconds of that game to tie it, but it was called back after a review showed he batted the puck with his glove and never touched it with his stick. He was none too pleased with the call (even though it was correct) and argued vehemently.
So there it looked like in game 1, the great Alex Ovechkin was the only one able to strike and almost tied it as well. His consistency seems unfathomable and he’s so prolific that give him enough chances and he’ll make you pay. He showed passion and looked like a guy willing to do anything to win.
On the other hand, you’ve got a guy who in that loss showed his consistency is unfathomable. He made some bad decisions as far as shift length, and while his total ice time was only 16:25, 6:36 of that was in the third period. On one power play he didn’t even look at the bench even though they were barely able to maintain possession. His perpetual need to stay out and try to force something out of nothing is always his downfall. It’s so infuriating because he usually gets rewarded with a goal and then his team falls just a bit short. But look at Ovechkin! He scores. It’s the fault of his teammates right?
Other players also played more and did less. Don’t get me wrong. Evgeni Malkin played 19:42 which is way too much for him. Kucherov, Tarasenko, and Panarin all played close to 15:00 or 16:00. Pavel Datsyuk was only just over 17:00.
Compare this loss to Sweden with the next two games. In game two Ovechkin played 15:03, essentially a minute and a half less. He still had an assist. Malkin dropped all the way down to 15:00 but in a 4-3 game was plus 1. Tarasenko played just 13:39 and picked up a goal. Kucherov decreased to 12:36 and had a goal. Panarin played 13:51 and had an assist. Datsyuk increased to 18:57(the main increase being due to almost 4 minutes of penalty killing time) and picked up an assist. Kuznetzov also had a goal on 15:05.
When Ovechkin doesn’t take it all on himself, especially late in the game, the team as a whole has more success.
In their only shut out of the tournament, Russia beat Finland 3-0. Ovechkin logged a grand total of 14:17. He had an assist. Malkin was 16:55 and had a goal. Coincidence?
Kucherov went back up to 16:53 and was held pointless. Panarin went back up to 15:41 and had a big goose egg as well. Tarasenko on the other hand stayed down at 13:04. He picked up a goal and was a +2.
So with one period left in the semi-final against Canada, which Russian team will we see?
Alexander Ovechkin started the game with a bad choice. He was on the starting line up but it wasn’t the match they wanted. Even with his teammate hanging his leg over the boards waiting for the change, Ovechkin stayed out for 32 seconds before going off. That’s pretty much as long as a regular shift, and longer than the 25 seconds Canada’s first power play unit stayed on during the first power play of the game. It’s those types of decisions that may seem small (what’s 30 seconds out of 60 minutes?) but really throw off a team’s rhythm.
With only 11 forwards dressed and some inflated ice times on the Russian side, statistically this should amount to a Canada win.