Ramblings: Ovechkin Producing Despite Controversy; Dobson, Chiarot, C. Smith (Mar 4)

Ian Gooding


Because of his prior praise for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, Alex Ovechkin has seen his reputation take a major blow recently. With everything going on in the motherland, it will be interesting to see if Ovie's on-ice results are affected. Does he bury himself in his play and even become extra fired up, or does this situation start to get into his head and he becomes rattled? Obviously, he's a competitor and you don't want to bet against him. It is worth mentioning that the Capitals have a higher concentration of core Russian players than the average NHL team, which could also be something to watch.

If Thursday was any indication, Ovechkin should be fine. He scored his 33rd goal of the season in Thursday's win over Carolina to put him within three goals of Jaromir Jagr for third on the all-time list. Will fans be excited if (when?) Ovie breaks Wayne Gretzky's goal record? Or will it generate the same "meh" reaction that happened when Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron's all-time home run record?

Anthony Mantha returned to the lineup for his first game since early November. Mantha played 16:13 on a line with Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie along with second-unit power-play time, but he did not record any points. Mantha is rostered in just under one-third of Yahoo leagues, so he's worth searching for in case he was dropped earlier this season.  

Vitek Vanecek earned a 36-save shutout against the Hurricanes, which was his second shutout in his last four games. That dates all the way back to late January, though. Ilya Samsonov was hurt in practice on Wednesday, so Vanecek could see plenty of work if Samsonov is out for any length of time.

Since December 1, no defenseman has more goals than Noah Dobson (10). Strangely enough, those are his only 10 goals of the season, so he's not even in the top 5 in that category among all defensemen this season. Regardless, he's emerged as the clear PP1 option on the Islanders blueline and is at the point where he should be rostered in just about every league. Dobson scored one of those goals on Thursday while taking five shots.

Anthony Beauvillier ended a nine-game goal drought by scoring on Thursday. I often come away impressed when I watch him play, so I'm a bit surprised the results haven't been there this season.  Beauvillier made the most recent Top 10 list – this one for players to trade for in keeper leagues. Based on that advice and my own observations and the Isles' high volume of remaining games, I'll hang onto my Beauvillier shares.

Nils Hoglander scored his first goal s