George McPhee: Alex Ovechkin ‘was not himself earlier this year but he certainly is now’

General Manager George McPhee joined NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on the NHL Hour show on XM radio Thursday evening and during part of his interview was asked what to make of Alex Ovechkin’s up-and-down season.

“He’s been much better in the second half,” McPhee said. “Gary, there may have been a real hangover with that player after last year. I think it was a tremendous disappointment to lose in the playoffs, it was a tremendous disappointment to lose in the Olympics for him. He’s a fiercely proud guy and those things didn’t go well for him.

“I think that affected his play and he was not himself earlier this year but he certainly is now,” he continued. ”Obviously we need him to be good, we need everybody to be good if we’re going to get anything done, but it’s nice to see him play the way that he’s playing the last five years because it’s something to watch.”

--The Capitals’ trip doesn’t get any easier as they visit the never-say-die Devils.

--Included in that resurgent group is former Washington center David Steckel, who doesn’t know quite what to expect when facing his former team on Friday. [Fire and Ice]

--Simple changes have helped the Capitals. [Yahoo]

--After several days of focusing on player safety and concussion prevention, the league’s general managers turned to video review.

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