The Boston Bruins, and particularly towering 6-foot-9 defenseman and captain Zdeno Chara, have often made life a little more difficult for Alex Ovechkin. He's tallied 23 points in 21 career games against the Bruins and 19 points in 17 games during Chara's time in Boston.
"It's a challenge. Not just for me, but for everybody," Ovechkin said when asked about playing against Chara. "He's a top-five defenseman in the NHL. To make some hits and moves against him gives you some belief, some confidence. It's pretty hard to make a move against him, because if you make a move he's still going to catch you because his stick is long and he's tough."
On Tuesday night, when the Capitals met the Bruins for the first installment of this home-and-home series, it wasn't just Chara tasked with bottling up the two-time Hart Trophy winner.
When Chara wasn't on the ice against Ovechkin, the Bruins put out their top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton to bottle up the Capitals' top trio. Regardless of what strategies Coach Bruce Boudreau used to try to give Ovechkin more opportunities -- playing him on defense in the third, putting Alexander Semin alongside him and Nicklas Backstrom -- the Bruins had an answer. It was the first time this season Ovechkin failed to record a point, but he did have five shots on goal.
Thursday at TD Garden, Ovechkin and the Capitals have a chance to redeem themselves from the 3-1 loss earlier this week. But when it comes to finding ways to free up Ovechkin, Boudreau said that the only person who can really do that is Ovechkin himself.
"Ovi's got to create the space for Ovi. The team's not going to create it; that's his job," Boudreau said. "Ovi has had people on him for five years, and when he's playing at the top of his game he makes his own space. It's not a surprise that when we play that every team says, 'Let's cover him, let's not let him beat us.' He finds ways. He had a couple of chances yesterday, but Boston, give them credit, they did a good job."
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