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I'm generally not a fan of judging an athlete by how many championships he or she has won. I think that's too simplistic a metric and doesn't take into account a lot of things, such as the strength of the player's team, the strength of the league or much of anything apart from who gets lucky during the playoffs. If championship runs were our only measuring stick by which we judge a player's ability and performance, then Robert Horry - the winner of seven NBA championships - would be the greatest NBA player of my lifetime. But I don't even think it's necessary to lay out all the reasons as to why Horry doesn't even come close to earning that title.

But when it comes to Alex Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals, I'm really inclined to say just one thing: put up or shut up.

Throughout his six year career, Ovechkin has nabbed the NHL Rookie of the Year award, two Hart Trophies for Most Valuable Player and six first team all-star nominations. The Russian also has led the league in scoring twice since he entered the league in 2005.

Yet the Capitals, under his leadership, never have made it past the conference semifinals. In fact, the Capitals have lost three straight make-or-break, game sevens at home.

It has gotten to the point where it's honestly not even worth watching any of the Caps' regular season games because no matter how incredible they look in December or January, they inevitably will collapse during April and May.

Eventually, Ovechkin's playoff failures will become more and more of a problem for the athlete - and this is coming from a guy who doesn't believe that postseason success should serve as a barometer for an athlete's overall quality of work. But by consistently choking in the playoffs, the star only continues to diminish his own value and his own legacy.

Still, I think this year might be different. In contrast to the last three seasons, during which the Capitals have earned a spot in the playoffs, the Caps will enter this year's Stanley Cup race after overcoming a modicum of adversity throughout the regular season.

It seems so long ago now, but during December, the Caps dropped eight consecutive games. They lost any momentum that they had gained from a hot start and even surrendered their lead in the Southeast Division - a division that they simply have dominated for the past several years. By the end of the skid, the negative noise surrounding the Capitals and their lovable, portly coach Bruce Boudreau was deafening. You basically could not listen to sports talk radio without hearing incessant arguments about how Boudreau should be fired.

But after a particularly humiliating defeat at the hands of the New York Rangers - who just happen to be their first round opponent - the Capitals changed their systems and changed their lines. The Caps rebounded and became stronger than ever, going on a tear in the final month of the season to lock up the No. 1 seed in the East and notch the second-best record in the NHL.

I believe that the Capitals' ability to deal with and overcome adversity during the early part of the season could provide the team with the necessary push to finally bring home the Stanley Cup. Honestly, they've tried just about every other way of getting it done. But maybe this is the time.

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