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Alex Ovechkin may be in slump, but the Capitals have bigger things to worry about

Alex Ovechkin may be in a scoring slump, but the Capitals have bigger things to worry about in the weeks leading up to what really matters -- the playoffs.
Alex Ovechkin may be in a scoring slump, but the Capitals have bigger things to worry about in the weeks leading up to what really matters -- the playoffs. (John Mcdonnell/the Washington Post)
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Do they move Alexander Semin, he of the heavenly skill and hellish consistency, for a decent, second-line center to stay with the get-tougher-for-the-playoffs theme currently being espoused by General Manager George McPhee and Boudreau?

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Or do they give Mr. Mercurial one more postseason to see if Semin can deliver on all that promise before he leaves this franchise and fan base in a maddening state of inconsistency?

And what of Nicklas Backstrom's goal funk? Or whether or not this new, muck-up-the-neutral-zone defense that worked so well for New Jersey during its Stanley Cup runs and an unheralded Montreal team that stunned the Capitals last year is taking away from that high-powered offense for which Boudreau's teams have come to be known?

It seems Ovechkin's drought - and with only five goals on 132 shots in his last 28 games, it is indeed a drought - has obscured bigger concerns because a two-time Hart Trophy winner has yet to record one hat trick this season.

Bottom line, hockey is one of the few sports in which the best player on the ice often doesn't have an ultra-productive night - and his team still wins.

Coming into Sunday, Ovechkin averaged 21 minutes 34 seconds per night, which means he's on the ice a little over one-third of the time.

LeBron James, who rivals Ovie as the most dynamic team-sport player in North America, has played 38 of 48 minutes in 40 games for the Miami Heat this season.

LeBron can not only control a game better because he has the ball in his hands for many more minutes than Ovechkin has the puck on his stick; a basketball player can go coast-to-coast much easier.

No one wants to end this goal funk more than Ovie. But other than the times it's clearly cost the Capitals a victory, it might not be the worst thing to have this happen at midseason.

It says here one of the Caps' main problems the past few years is watching Ovechkin weave through five bad guys as if they were traffic cones. He almost trusted himself too much with the puck, and the result was many of his gifted teammates turning into creasemen hoping for a rebound in front of the net.

If his teammates can play tic-tac-toe a few shifts, they are only going to get better as a team. Besides, it's not like Ovechkin isn't trying.

"The most important thing for me and the organization now is not to be MVP and scoring leader," Ovechkin said outside the Caps' locker room about 30 minutes after the Ottawa game. "It's for me to help bring the championship to Washington.


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