Saturday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils was not a particularly good night for Alex Ovechkin. The captain finished with a minus-1 rating, just two shots on goal (he had eight more shots blocked and one that missed the net) and his irritation was evident in the 11 hits he was credited with at the end of 20:14 of ice time.
“He’s frustrated,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “You can see the frustration on his face. He wants to score so badly. He’s scored seven on the road and none at home. I’m sure he’d prefer to score a few at home in front of the 18,000 people who come and adore him every night. It’s not for lack of trying.
“So, what do you do?” Boudreau asked rhetorically. “You usually take your frustration out on something, and he hits.”
Ovechkin’s frustration with his own game is rising, and it’s apparent not only in his on-ice performance. He has seven goals, seven assists and is a minus-1 through 15 games this season. Much like in 2010-11, when he recorded career lows in points and goals, Ovechkin doesn’t appear to have the same spark as a scoring threat off the rush that he did earlier in his career as opposing defenses anticipate his actions.
Several of Ovechkin’s goals this year have come with him close in and around the net, where he’s able to receive the puck or pounce on rebounds, rather than the highlight-reel dazzlers with spin-o-rama moves that were customary in previous years. They all count the same, but it’s hard not to wonder if there’s a bit of a transition going on as Ovechkin and the Capitals’ coaching staff try to find more efficient ways for the left wing to produce offensively.
As far as Ovechkin’s assessment of his performance Saturday night, there was no hiding his dissatisfaction.
“I have chances to score,” Ovechkin said. “My job to score goals, not make the hits. The second period I have probably like three chances to score, but I didn’t do the right thing.”