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Posted at 1:47 PM ET, 12/28/2010

Boudreau: Alex Ovechkin's slow stretch no cause for alarm

By Gene Wang

(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)


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."

By Gene Wang  | December 28, 2010; 1:47 PM ET
Categories:  Alex Ovechkin  
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Next: Sidney Crosby: Caps, Penguins 'bring out the best in one another'

Comments

"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,"

Hmm, correct me if Im wrong, but wasnt it 2 straight, OT loss, 1 win...and that would also make it 3-0-1 not 3-1.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | December 28, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Interesting dilemma regarding the PIT/ATL game.

Here's my take:

1) It's one (1) game, and is thus by itself unlikely to be the difference by which the Caps make--or (God forbid) don't make--it into the playoffs. Smart money says the Caps will make it in, though--one way or another. Let the chips fall where they may vis-รก-vis the Division standings.

2) The Caps are (we all hope) out of the "schneid" and will continue to manufacture wins more often than not as the season progresses.

3) I would thoroughly enjoy seeing the locker room effects of a second consecutive (gasp!) Pittsburgh loss on Penguins/Capitals 24/7.

4) The vast majority of us hate the Penguins with the White-Hot Intensity of a Thousand Suns. Atlanta? Though they have given us "fits" so far this season, not so much.


ergo: the Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend...Go Thrashers!

Posted by: Rhino40 | December 28, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

"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,"

Hmm, correct me if Im wrong, but wasnt it 2 straight, OT loss, 1 win...and that would also make it 3-0-1 not 3-1.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce

I think he meant that the Caps have won 3 straight games of only the games decided in regulation time. So that would exclude the Pens game as part of the streak as it was not decided in regulation. It's an odd way to put it, but I think that's what the writer intended.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 28, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Puck Fittsburgh at all times.

Go Thrashers.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | December 28, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

@sgm

Yeah that was what I figured too, but depending on how you read the sentence it could be taken either way. I guess I should have just put, I didnt agree with his wording. :P

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | December 28, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

) The vast majority of us hate the Penguins with the White-Hot Intensity of a Thousand Suns. Atlanta? Though they have given us "fits" so far this season, not so much.


ergo: the Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend...Go Thrashers!

Posted by: Rhino40 |

I gotta agree...my hatred of Pitt has gone WAY past rational thought. If it were the end of the season and Pitt had to win a game in order for the Caps to make the playoffs...I would BARELY be able to wish them a win.

As for Ovie...

I have accepted that number wise, this will not be a good season for the guy...it is not the end of the world. But if he turns it on come playoff time and even wins playoff MVP...well then I think we would all agree it was worth the frustration.

Even if he doesn't turn it on at all this season...this is a team sport...1 player does not make a team.

Crosby has had plenty of dry spells in his career...it's just that nobody talks about them...we only here about Crosby when things are going his way...not saying that he's not playing spectacular hockey right now b/c he is. But as soon as Ovie starts to struggle there are 15 articles about it and when Crosby struggles....nothing...they just wait until he turns it around and pretend like nothing ever went badly for the kid.

Posted by: capscoach | December 28, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Regarding last thread:

Not sure where I stand on whether Schultz should rejoin Green as a D-pair or not. Each side of the argument has some merit. Both 23 and 55 are responsible in their own zone, which is what you want paired with 52 at all times anyway regardless of "which" MG52 shows up, but especially since the goal-scoring Mike Green is poised for a return...

On one hand, Hannan is here for a couple of years at the most, while Schultz is likely to be around for awhile, which would argue for not interrupting the 55/52 chemistry any longer than necessary...

OTOH, sticking with a combination that is is currently working would seem to be the path to success for the balance of this season.

As for the Alzner/Carlson (or Carlson/Alzner, or Carlzner, or whatever) pairing, I believe that it would be unwise for BB to split them up unless it is unavoidable.

Granted, they are both very young and therefore subject to their fair share of rookie mistakes.

However, I feel that the chemistry they have formed from years of skating together goes a long way toward offsetting their relative lack of NHL experience; being in a "comfort zone" with your partner is an important component of being effective on defense, after all.

Posted by: Rhino40 | December 28, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

hmm as big of a ovechkin fan as i am it makes me wonder that ever since the matter of using p.e.d came up right before playoffs last year he has not been same player. please oh please take him off the point on the power play, that position on power play is such a waiste of his talents. put along boards where he can use wrister, and be the playmaker he is.

Posted by: will_dorr74 | December 28, 2010 10:50 PM | Report abuse

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