There is a lot that hasn’t gone well for the Capitals through the first four games of the season. They’re taking too many penalties (which you can read more about in today’s story for the dead-tree edition), the power play is ineffective (3 for 20) and their superstar captain has largely been absent.
Alex Ovechkin has yet to score a goal, making this four-game drought the longest dry spell to start a season of his career. He has just one point, a secondary assist, and meanwhile Washington (0-3-1) is the only team in the NHL without a victory.
Earlier this month, General Manager George McPhee said that the Capitals would go only as far as Ovechkin can take them. As they try to get on track early in the season, they need more from the face of the franchise.
“Of course it’s tough. Of course I wanna see my name on the score list. But, again, we’re gonna try,” Ovechkin said. “It’s not frustrating. Right now, most important thing, it’s not about make points or make goals. We have to take a win. One win and then I think it’s gonna be a very relief for us.”
Ovechkin played 22 minutes 29 seconds against New Jersey on Friday, recording two shots on goal and one hit but he was without any truly quality scoring chances.
“I thought he was a lot better [against New Jersey]. I think he needs a couple goals to relax and let it happen,” Coach Adam Oates said. “We have a few guys in that boat and that’s understandable for sure. He’ll get on the power play, he’ll get a rebound he’ll get it then we’ll get going and we’re fine.”
Oates stuck with the unconventional line combinations he used against New Jersey in Saturday’s practice and it’s possible he could stick with that lineup for Sunday’s matinee against the Buffalo Sabres at Verizon Center.
If that’s the case, Ovechkin would start a second game with grinders Jay Beagle and Joey Crabb as his linemates.
“Coming in before the season I didn’t pencil myself in playing on a line with Ovechkin, but when you get presented with opportunities like that you try to do the best with them,” said Crabb, who said it’s important for neither he nor Beagle to try and alter their game too much just because of their high-profile linemate. “They put us with him for a reason and it’s not to go out there and try to dangle guys one on one and make fancy backdoor plays.”
Beagle and Crabb saw 14:19 and 12:38 of ice time, respectively, against New Jersey while skating alongside Ovechkin and created a scoring chance on the first shift of the second period.
“Playing with Ovi it almost opens up a lot more room for me and Crabber,” Beagle said. “It’s kind of weird. I’ve never really experienced something where two defenders are on one guy so there’s two-on-ones all over the ice kind of because you’re playing with Ovi. It was definitely different.”