MIKE WISE 

Enough talk of Ovechkin's funk

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Monday, January 17, 2011

After being dispatched to Verizon Center on Sunday to find out whether Alex Ovechkin is a coasting-through-the-regular-season diva, all but washed up as the most breathtaking player in his sport at 25, something happened:

In the middle of The Slump That's Stumped the NHL, an actual hockey game broke out.

Featuring a real, live, third-period comeback.

Two goals within 45 scintillating seconds that rocked an inferior team's confidence and sent the arena into delirium with applause, just like last year.

And a 24/7-quality speech between the second and third periods from Bruce Boudreau that was so rousing, "In the middle of it, I started to think, this sounds like the one I used on HBO; I just hoped the players didn't remember," the Caps' coach said afterward.

Okay, Ovie never scored against Ottawa, leaving him stuck on a measly 15 goals through 46 games and still trailing the not-quite-legendary Atlanta defenseman Dustin Byfuglien by one score.

But some guy called "Brooksie" got off the schneid.

Another affectionately called "Carly" one-timed a power-play rocket from a good 30 or so feet.

Heck, even "Chimmer" pushed home a banker for insurance.

And when Brooks Laich, John Carlson and Jason Chimera do that, well, come on, they deserve to have their Mouseketeer hockey nicknames used too.

The point is, barring a hidden injury, does what's wrong with Ovie in mid-January really matter if other things are right with the Caps?

Focusing on Ovechkin's inability to get the puck in the net almost overshadows Washington's genuine problem as the Feb. 28 NHL trading deadline looms:


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