He shouldn't be.
If anything, the fourth-line banger's impetuous intervention embarrassed the team's newly-minted captain and set him up for a potentially more dangerous confrontation down the road.
The incident occurred late in Tampa Bay's 7-4 blowout of the Caps, in the aftermath of an earlier altercation that saw Ovechkin appear to stick out his leg to impede the streaking Downie. It was yet another hit on a resume that could be interpreted as crossing the line between cheap and dirty. A minor confrontation followed and both players were penalized. When they exited the box, hostilities resumed. It was at that point that Bradley decided Ovechkin couldn't, or shouldn't, defend himself and took it upon himself to attack the player who'd originally been wronged.
Yeah, that makes sense.
We all know why Bradley felt the need to take action. Do the Caps want to see their franchise sidelined by a broken hand, separated shoulder or any other injury that has a remote chance of occurring any time two players square off?
Of course not. But that's hardly the point, is it?
This, like so much else in this game, is about accountability.
I'm not divulging any secret recipes by suggesting that Ovechkin's game has a little spice to it. Take your pick of adjectives: Physical. Edgy. Reckless. Dangerous. Doesn't matter on which side of the scale you come down, you have to recognize that aggressive play, by nature, eventually demands a reaction. That, after all, is part of what makes this game so entertaining.
Ovechkin's willingness to initiate contact is a sizable part of what makes him great. But that's not a one-way street, especially considering the way he sometimes makes his presence felt. If you don't think there are a lot of players out there who've tucked away his number for just the right moment, well you haven't been paying close attention to the carnage left in his wake.
This isn't a knock on Ovechkin. He's not taking his shots and then ducking for cover behind some skating slab of beef. It's duly noted that when he and Downie exited the box, Ovechkin was ready to answer the bell. In fact, he dropped the gloves and dumped his bucket before the more battle-tested Bolt did. Good for him.
But when Bradley came flying in to take the bullet
Fact is, Ovechkin's long overdue -- about three years now -- to back up his predilection for questionable hits. Sooner or later, he has to man up.
The Caps may not want Ovechkin fighting all his own battles. But if he intends to keep playing the way he does, then he needs to fight at least one.
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