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Posted at 7:04 AM ET, 11/25/2010

The Ovechkin and Backstrom the Caps know and expect

By Katie Carrera
Morning Roundup

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. In recent games there was little denying that neither Alex Ovechkin nor Nicklas Backstrom were playing with the swagger everyone in Washington has grown accustomed to in recent seasons. Yesterday morning, Coach Bruce Boudreau said he firmly believed that both players would work their way out of their slumps. He couldn't expect anything less of either one.

Backstrom agreed that things had been "a little off" and that the seamless chemistry wasn't always there and a day earlier Ovechkin said he just needed to keep working even if he made mistakes.

Wednesday night, with the adjustment of Ovechkin on the right wing rather than his regular spot on the left, both players showed the electric and endless possibilities that exist when both are playing with confidence. They figured in on all three goals, combined for five points, 15 shots and they were both, as Boudreau said after the 3-2 win over Carolina, what he expects them to be.

Boudreau said the idea to put Ovechkin on the right side came after a shift by the two-time MVP in Monday's 5-0 loss to New Jersey when he skated down the right side against the Devils and took two shots.

"My thoughts were that he always cuts into the middle, I just wanted him to start driving his legs a little bit more," Boudreau said. "When he's driving in the middle [while playing left wing] they put so much back pressure on him, the defensemen are standing up and the back pressure was there and he wasn't able to get his shot away. He'll be back there in no time, when Mike [Knuble] gets back, I would assume.

"I was just looking to get his legs moving," Boudreau said. "Sometimes when he stretches [at left wing] he ends up standing at the blueline and he gets caught on this side. The right wingers for our team most of the time is the guy coming across, so he's always moving his legs."

Said Ovechkin: "I think in the first five minutes, I always wanted to go to my usual side and I make one step and then I say, 'Ok, I have to go back and play [right wing].'.. I think today we feel pretty good and we played hard. The best thing is we wanted to play hard in the defensive zone and make sure we get pucks to the neutral zone to try and create plays over there. I think we did a pretty good job."

Perhaps this game was what both Ovechkin and Backstrom needed to snap out of their mini-slumps, but one thing's for sure and that's the intangible qualities of both players' games, which was missing in the previous handful of outings, was readily apparent on the ice against Carolina.

If you haven't checked them out already, here's the game story from the Caps' 3-2 win over Carolina and post-game blog entry on Semyon Varlamov's 30-save return to the NHL.

The Bears lost 3-2 to Worcester Wednesday night. (The Patriot News)

Jared DeMichiel was recalled to Hershey from the South Carolina Stingrays yesterday. (Stack the Pads)

By Katie Carrera  | November 25, 2010; 7:04 AM ET
Categories:  Alex Ovechkin, Bruce Boudreau, Morning Roundup, Nicklas Backstrom  
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Next: Caps assign Fahey and Holtby to Hershey


Happy Thanks Giving to everyone.

Posted by: instinct227 | November 25, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

from last article
With an early trip back to Washington for the Capitals' practice Thursday,

they are not really practicing on Thanksgiving are they?

Posted by: capscoach | November 25, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

per japersrink

Every time Matt Bradley's face bleeds, an angel gets its wings. Or the Caps get a win. Something like that

makes me smile! You ever think that no Halloween mask could ever scare the kid of a NHL player? I mean their parents come home every other day looking like Frakenstein.

Posted by: capscoach | November 25, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

capscoach: Why wouldn't they practice today? They have a game tomorrow. Paid holidays off are for government workers.

Posted by: Firegeezer | November 25, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Happy Thanksgiving to all. I'm thankful for my NHL Center Ice package so I can follow the Caps from afar. I miss my trips on metro into Verizon Center surrounded by red. Have a great Turkey Day. Let's Go Caps!!!

Posted by: CapsFaninSC | November 25, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Capscoach, with the exception of Carlson and Poti, today is just Thursday to the team. Besides, 10:30 practice and probably home in time to watch football all day, just like the rest of us.

Happy Thanksgiving all.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | November 25, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

It is just another practice day & the players typically have a dinner together...I think Tarik reported a bunch of them going to someone's house last year. Plus its not a universal holiday today -- our team is made up of Canadians, Russians & Euros...Thanksgiving Day was last month in Canada!

Posted by: CapsSighting | November 25, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Interesting to see Budreau walk up to Ovie and Backs on the ice and hug them both. Not just a slap around the back, but bear hug. Lots of tension were released last night.

Happy thanksgiving!

Posted by: jakopz | November 25, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

It was just three Thanksgivings ago that Bruce Boudreau was named Caps coach. The Caps were something like 6-13 at the time and went on to win their first Southeast Division crown. I remember going to games in the weeks before Boudreau took over. The crowds were pathetic, and you could hear a pin drop in Verizon Center. No rocking the red then. What a difference three years makes! Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and Let's Go Caps!

Posted by: UnionStationDC | November 25, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Caps won southeast back to back in 2000 and 01.

Posted by: Dizruption | November 25, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Capscoach, with the exception of Carlson and Poti, today is just Thursday to the team.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1

I doubt any Canadian hockey player here in the US is going to turn his nose up at a second Thanksgiving dinner. I'm sure many of them have American wives/girlfriends. I think Craig Laughlin has talked about enjoying two Thanksgiving dinners. I believe the Canadian version is the first Monday in October. Dave Steckel and Matt Hendricks are also American

Posted by: TempusFugitRGV1 | November 25, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

If I'm not mistaken, Steckel is an American also.

Posted by: tess2201 | November 25, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Oops. Sorry, Tempus. Didn't read all the way down before I posted.

Posted by: tess2201 | November 25, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone here. It's a day to be thankful for all that we take for granted...including Katie's fine reporting on the Caps!

Posted by: Terptwin | November 25, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Knuble has American ties as well, if I'm not mistaken he played at least a year of puck in a MI high school.

Speaking of American hockey, has anyone here even been to the MN high school tourney? I've never been but it is definitely on my bucket list!

Posted by: Timbo_1 | November 25, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse


Agreed on Knuble having American ties. If anything, if memory serves me correct, he was born in Canada but raised mostly in Michigan. (His parents were Latvian immigrants to America as kids but his dad's job had transferred him to Canada at the time of Mike's birth.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | November 25, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

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