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Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 11/27/2011

Caps’ Alex Ovechkin gives uninspired effort against Sabres

In 497 NHL regular season games during his career, Alex Ovechkin has finished a game with a minus-4 rating only four times the latest of which came Saturday night in a 5-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

Ovechkin was on the ice for the first Buffalo goal and each of the final three in what was an uninspired effort by the captain. On one of those goals in particular — Luke Adam’s second of the game 1:12 into the third period — Ovechkin’s inaction is on display as part of the highlight reel.

After the battle is lost in the corner and Adam gains control of the puck he skates toward the slot, where Ovechkin remains motionless watching the Sabres forward shoot and score to make it 4-1 at the time. Yes, there were other Capitals around Adam but for the duration of the play, Ovechkin remained in the slot while the other four players on the ice at least attempted to prevent the goal.

In the previous two games, Ovechkin managed to be a presence with physical play. Against the Rangers Friday night he scored his first goal of the season at home at Verizon Center and his hitting helped create Troy Brouwer’s goal. But the next day in Buffalo, none of that energy was present.

“I think we don’t support each other. Me, Nicky talk about it we was just too separate today,” Ovechkin said. “After first period me and Nicky said we have to be closer together to support. We just didn’t play at all our game today. Our line was not that successful, it was not that kind of energizer like we was last night too.”

The three previous times Ovechkin finished as a minus-4 came on Nov. 20, 2008 at Los Angeles, Dec. 8, 2006 against Anaheim and Oct. 5, 2006 at the New York Rangers.

Given that the two wins this week seemed to stop the bleeding temporarily and showed more even-keeled performances from most of the lineup, I asked Coach Bruce Boudreau if the problems the Capitals are facing are bigger than the team might have thought originally. Boudreau didn’t name names, but given Ovechkin’s season it’s hard not to think that the star left wing isn’t among the players Boudreau was referring to when citing a lack of consistency.

“I don’t know, it’s back to the drawing board and let’s see where we’re at. We’ve got to get more consistent better efforts from a number of people,” Boudreau said, “And it’s just something that the consistency is definitely lacking and we’ve got to find out the reason why.”

By  |  07:00 AM ET, 11/27/2011

 
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