Washington Capitals forward Joel Ward said teammate Alexander Ovechkin receives undue criticism from media and fans.
"He gets crapped on," Ward said in an interview with Toronto’s 590 The Fan, as transcribed by The Washington Post. "I mean, he wants to win. He’s a great dude. He’s worked it like everybody else... He’s a great guy, great leader, he wants to win, he’s ready to go, he’s fired up. We just couldn’t get it done for him, that’s all. And that’s just hockey. It’s a big team sport."
Ovechkin has been the NHL's leading goal scorer four times and won the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP three times, but the Capitals have never advanced past the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Capitals lost to the New York Rangers in seven games in the second round of this year's playoffs. Washington had taken a 3–1 series lead but New York won the final three games and advanced to the conference finals.
Ovechkin scored the first goal in Wednesday's Game 7, but the Rangers won 2–1 in overtime on a goal from Derek Stepan.
- Dan Gartland