Bruce Boudreau: There’s still only one Alex Ovechkin

December 23, 2013

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

No conversation with Bruce Boudreau is every fully contained in a single story, as I learned during my first year and a half on the Capitals beat.

That was the case once again this weekend on Long Island, where I caught up with Boudreau ahead of his return to Washington on Monday night. So here are some extras from our chat in New York.

>> After exchanging hellos and how’ve you beens, the first thing that comes up is Alex Ovechkin, who recorded his 400th career goal on Friday night in Carolina.

“He looks like he could score 400 this year,” Boudreau said.

>> Speaking of Ovechkin, Boudreau may be in the Western Conference now, but there remains only one Great Eight.

“When I went to the West I never saw anybody like Alex, a guy that could skate, is that big and can shoot like he can. There are great players in the West as the record versus the East indicates, but nobody individually like Alex,” Boudreau said. “When he scored 65 goals in one year it was, ‘Wow.’ You could put him out and you knew something good was going to happen. I think the days of him going 10 games without a goal are long gone.”

Boudreau still watches every Capitals game to keep up with how the players he grew up with are doing. He also catches NHL Tonight more often than not on NHL Network, and is glad to see Ovechkin leading the highlights most nights.

“It’s great for the league for Alex to be playing the way he is,” Boudreau said. “If he’s playing good, he’s the lead. Every night. He’s one of those players.”

Can you see anything different about him?

“He looks more mature because his hair is so short,” Boudreau said. “He doesn’t look like that scraggly guy that you knew and loved when he was young. He looks like a man now. They’ve all evolved.”

>> In discussing how he’s evolved as a coach, Boudreau brought up the different styles of Capitals General Managers George McPhee and his counterpart in Anaheim, Bob Murray.

“George is great. I really like George, but Bob Murray is more challenging and in your face as a GM. The things that he will bring up, you’d look over and you’d realize you need to get better at certain things, and I think I’ve gotten better because of it….

“Matchups, matching lines is probably the biggest thing,” he said. “We have personnel to match where I didn’t think in Washington a lot of times we did. It’s one of those things where now we’re doing it all the time; it’s not just once in a blue moon. I used to match lines in the last five games of the year getting ready to go to the playoffs and now we’re matching lines the whole year so it’s going to be a normal thing for them.”

>> On working with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry as the stars of the Ducks.

“They’re not the dynamic type of Alex Ovechkin. Nobody is, nobody has that persona, that personality,” Boudreau said. “Corey Perry’s a superstar but he just goes about his business and is pretty quiet. Ryan Getzlaf is a superstar, if he was in the East they’d be comparing him to Crosby every minute. He’s a tremendous leader and a tremendous captain — not saying anything that Alex isn’t, but those two are different kinds of players.”

>> The Ducks own the best record in the NHL at 26-7-5, they’re on a eight-game winning streak and both Getzlaf (19 goals, 43 points) and Perry (22 goals, 40 points) are among the top 10 in scoring. But Boudreau would still like to see them improve on special teams – the Ducks’ penalty kill is ranked 21st at 80.8 percent, the power play 23rd at 15.4. His biggest concern now, though, is making sure they stay the course and don’t assume just because they’ve been winning, the wins will come easily.

“If I start complaining when we’ve got [57] points, I’m in trouble,” Boudreau said. “The biggest thing is when you’re going good is not to relax, because once you relax, losing streaks follow winning streaks in a big hurry. We try to stay on top of them. I like what’s going on, though. I like the way we’re not allowing a lot of goals.”

Saturday night in New York was the first time during the winning streak that the Ducks have allowed more than two goals.

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