NEWARK – Two days after Coach Adam Oates said Alex Ovechkin “quit” on a play that led that to the Dallas Stars’ fourth goal in Tuesday’s drubbing, the star winger said he wasn’t the only one.
“He’s the head coach and I get the blame from it, but in that moment I think everybody quit on the play,” Ovechkin said following the Capitals’ morning skate at Prudential Center on Friday in his first public comments since Oates criticized his lackluster defensive play against the Stars.
“To be honest with you I didn’t see him, I kind of lost the position. It is what it is,” Ovechkin said. “We make lots of mistakes, it’s not about one mistake. You can’t blame one mistake in the whole game.”
That’s not an encouraging message from the face of the franchise, especially when the franchise in question might miss the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07. But little about the last two weeks has been encouraging for the Capitals, who have lost four straight since returning from their California trip and are close to being eliminated from playoff contention.
“Of course it sucks to lose, it sucks when you didn’t do right thing, when you know how to play, you know the system, you just make easiest mistakes; what you can do out there,” Ovechkin said. “As a group we just have to stick together and we can’t blame on one guy. We can’t blame on goalie, we can’t blame on one D, we can’t blame on Backy or Wardo or somebody else. If somebody makes mistakes someone has to cover it, that’s why we have five guys out there, that’s why we a team.”
Ovechkin will be reunited on a line with Nicklas Backstrom against the Devils after playing the majority of the last eight games – the switch happened mid-way through the March 16 contest against Toronto – with Jay Beagle as his center.
Ovechkin played down the switch as a simple coach’s decision but hinted he wasn’t happy playing with the defensive center.
“Of course you can’t compare Beags and Backstrom but we try to create because we lose Brooks Laich, we lose Grabo, we try to have second line center and we try Beags. Me and Backy play separate and sometimes it works and sometimes it’s not,” Ovechkin said. “But I think Beags tries his best and again the whole moment if [Oates] puts me with somebody else I have to play. I can’t say, ‘You know what I’m not going to play with this guy.’ It’s disrespectful to my teammates and of course I can be angry about it but I still have to play.”