Boudreau: Alex Ovechkin's slow stretch no cause for alarm
Alex Ovechkin is weathering a trying stretch in which goals have been coming at an almost alarming rate of infrequency. Despite scoring in Sunday's 3-2 win against Carolina, the Capitals captain still has just three goals over his last 20 games.
That's hardly a pace worthy of a two-time Richard Trophy winner, especially days from playing in the Winter Classic against arch rival Pittsburgh. Not that Ovechkin or Coach Bruce Boudreau appear overly concerned, however, that one of the two best players in the world is well below his customary scoring pace.
"He's the kind of guy, if there's doubters out there, usually he shuts them up in the end, so I'm just hoping that he does," Boudreau said after the team's morning skate in advance of tonight's game against Montreal at Verizon Center. "I mean, he's gone through dry spells, and then his dry spells are usually followed by a pretty hot streak. It wouldn't surprise me, and I'm not saying it's going to happen, if he got like 15 goals in 10 games, and then all of sudden he's back where he's supposed to be."
Ovechkin's goal against the Hurricanes ended a run of eight consecutive games in which he had not scored. Before that slump, Ovechkin scored in back-to-back games after not scoring in nine straight.
Ovechkin has 13 goals, which are the second most on the Capitals this season. Alexander Semin leads the team with 18.
"No, there was frustration about losing," Ovechkin said when asked if the scoring drought has been difficult, "but probably that's it."
The Capitals have won three
consecutive games in regulation since dropping eight in a row during the low point of the season. Washington is 3-1 over its past four games, with the only loss in that span coming to the Penguins in a shootout, 3-2, on Dec. 23.
While the losing streak may be in the rearview mirror, Ovechkin remains well in the distance among the NHL's goal leaders. Pittsburgh rival Sidney Crosby leads the league with 30 goals, which makes this slow start particularly bothersome.
"There was awhile back there at the beginning of the month where he wasn't getting any chances, and sometimes you end up feeling sorry for yourself because things aren't going well," Boudreau said. "Then you just say, 'The hell with it,' and you start getting back to where you're supposed to be. I'm thinking he's getting closer and closer to that."
To arrive there fully, Ovechkin must get on track on the power play, where he has just two goals this season. Both of Ovechkin's power-play goals came in one game, which means he has been without a power-play goal in 37 games this season.
Boudreau stressed the lack of production on special teams as essentially the sole culprit for the dearth in goals. Ovechkin has gone nearly 100 consecutive power plays without a goal, Boudreau pointed out, and almost 50 straight without a point.
"If this were a normal year, just on power plays alone he'd be at 50 points and above, and we'd be talking about him in the same vein as we always talk about him," Boudreau said. "So when the power play isn't going well for any of the top stars, then your numbers are going to be down, so for a guy who's numbers aren't where he's used to, he's still a plus-10, and he's still playing over 20 minutes a game, and he's still our best player. ...
"Look, these are great players in this league, and eventually they're going to start scoring again. They don't go the whole year without being who they are, and so I anticipate it happening sooner than later, hopefully."
| December 28, 2010; 1:47 PM ET
Categories: Alex Ovechkin
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