Their confidence was visible to their teammates on the bench, as was the fact that the Alexes were keeping their games simple. They used creativity when opportunity presented itself but chipped and chased at the right times too, in accordance with Coach Dale Hunter’s system.
The pair left their offensive mark on the contest, Semin with two goals and Ovechkin with assists on each tally. It was the first game since April 2 in which both recorded a multi-point outing and it offered a reminder of how much of an advantage it is for the Capitals to have both superbly gifted wingers sparking the play.
It’s not a secret. If the Capitals are going to start finding consistency, they need a high level of engagement and adherence to the game plan from Ovechkin and Semin more often than not.
“Ultimately for us, if we want to win a Stanley Cup, we need them going. We need them firing all the pistons and going as much as they were [against New York]. I think they know that,” said Jason Chimera, who leads the team with 13 goals. “Hopefully there can be consistent efforts like that because that’s the way the game’s played.
“Everyone else could be going, but if those two guys are not going our team’s pretty useless,” Chimera continued. “We can chip in goals, but those guys can score when they want to — or so it seems when they’re playing that good. It was nice to see last night.”
Consider that Washington, which is 18-15-2 heading into Friday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres at Verizon Center, is 9-0-1 this year when Ovechkin and Semin both record a point but is 0-7-0 when neither records a point in games in which both players are in the lineup.
Given the way that teams target both Ovechkin and Semin with stingy defensive pairings and checking lines, pressuring them from all angles makes their participation in the system that much more important. Making use of their options and making the simple play can minimize their turnovers and create more scoring chances.
Their teammates understand there’s been an adjustment period for everyone, particularly the most skilled names on the roster, but seeing Ovechkin and Semin making the correct choice for the team doesn’t go unnoticed.
“We notice that right away and we love to see that because while they do have the skill to make the play across the blue line, that’s not the system. That’s not what we want to do,” Karl Alzner said. “They’ve been doing a good job, I think, of changing what they need to do to adapt to score. That’s the main thing, we need them to do both.”