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Ovechkin sits out practice, Caps call it a “maintenance day”

Oct 19, 2011, 12:56 PM EST

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 18: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals battles for position with Mike Weaver #43 of the Florida Panthers at the Verizon Center on October 18, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) Getty Images

Via csnwashington.com comes news that Alex Ovechkin sat out practice today. The Capitals are calling it a “maintenance day.”

Ovechkin has just one goal and two assists in Washington’s first five games. If the Caps weren’t a perfect 5-0-0, it would be a problem. As of now it’s just a concern. Mostly for fantasy owners.

“My results is not that good,” he said Monday, a day before notching an assist in last night’s 3-0 win over Florida.

Ovechkin played a season-low 17:35 against the Panthers. Granted, that wasn’t a huge surprise considering the Caps were protecting a lead most of the night. And according to coach Bruce Boudreau, Ovechkin won’t be logging the big minutes like he’s done in the past.

“He’s not getting 22 minutes a game,” Boudreau said Monday. “Instead he’s getting 18 to 19 minutes a game because the team is more balanced than it’s been in the past. How many goals does that equate to? How many points does that equate to? But does it equate to more team success? Sometimes less is better.”

With five wins and no losses, it’s hard to argue with the coach on that one.

  1. danphipps01 - Oct 19, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    Yeah, but they’re paying him nine and a half million a season. It’s kind of necessary for him to produce. They ARE a fantastic, near-perfectly balanced squad – but he’s fully a sixth of their salary cap, doing practically nothing so far. Add to that that he’s their captain and their arguably weakest area is leadership, and he has to pick up his game. They need leaders when the pressure’s on, and if Ovi’s playing like this in no-pressure situations, well… that could bite them later on.

    • stakex - Oct 19, 2011 at 4:33 PM

      Sure, Ovechkin has done “practically nothing” so far…. but if he had a 5 game stretch in the middle of the season in which he only had 3 points, it wouldn’t be a big deal at all, especially if the Capitals were 5-0 during that span. So its far too early to start talking about Ovechkin having issues at this point. Now, if it gets to the 20th game of the season and Ovechkin has 4 goals and 8 assists…. then I’d worry if I was a Caps fan.

      With that said, its clear theres something “off” with Ovechkin. Perhaps its a slight inury and thats what this day off is about, perhaps its problems with Boudreau which is possible, perhaps its problems with the Caps current system, or perhaps its a problem with the Capitals in general (after all, word is some of their players simply dont care to win… like Semin). What ever it is, hes clearly not the Ovechkin we have seen over the last 5 years (excluding the second half of last season)…. and while its not time to panic for Washington yet, time is ticking.

      • danphipps01 - Oct 19, 2011 at 4:46 PM

        Agreed. I don’t mean to come off too hard on Ovi, but there are a lot of ups and downs here. The Caps have a lot of guys who are questionable under playoff pressure (Semin, Green, Backstrom) and their best leadership candidate is Ovi, who himself is a little hit and miss for a few reasons – he works hard under pressure, but lets himself go physically in the offseason, is on poor terms with his coach (who knows which of them is more at fault there) and in general seems to lack the ability to inspire his team to go all-out when it matters. It’s not a major issue yet, you’re quite right – but there are a lot of troubling questions that nobody can say have been answered in the offseason. Another performance like the last two years and a lot of folks will get sacked – but Ovi has the power to change that, if he picks up and ignites. There’s a lot riding on him to drive them to the Cup. The pressure’s on his shoulders from the very first game and time, as you say, is ticking.

      • stakex - Oct 20, 2011 at 1:06 AM

        Oh there is no doubt the Caps have a lot of question marks despite this good start, and Ovechkin is the focus of many of them.

        Still though, I must say I’m not a fan of Ovechkin getting the blame for not being able to fire up the Capitals and I don’t think he has a ton of control over most of their issues. Its perfectly possible that a guy like Semin just really does not care about winning a cup, and views the playoffs as overtime that he would rather not have to deal with. If thats really the case, there is simply no “lighting a fire” under him. Or perhaps Boudreau simply is not a good enough coach in the playoffs to get the Capitals to a cup?

        Ovi wears the C so everyone wants to blame him for the Caps losing in the playoffs… yet during their last three trips to the playoffs Ovi was the only inspiring player on the ice. I don’t know what more hes suppose to do, and if guys like Semin/Green/Backstrome need a pep talk and a hug to go along with their multi-miliion dollar contracts in order to play good in the playoffs…. perhaps the Capitals should trade them right now while their value is high and get some heart in return.

      • danphipps01 - Oct 20, 2011 at 4:29 PM

        I quite agree. Honestly, if their playoff performance this year resembles the last two, I’d say the best solution would be to blow up the roster. Fire Boudreau. He’s not respected in the locker room. Semin’ll be a free agent, so they’ll probably just have to lose him unless they go for a deadline trade before the playoffs, which they won’t. Green’s dicey. He always rocks the regular season, disappears in the playoffs, and he’s an RFA next season. Could try to shop him, I guess, for draft picks or something. Backstrom’s got a no-movement clause and I doubt he’d be willing to leave a top-five team. Try to get leadership candidates, because Ovi’s not exactly an ideal captain and he’s got a lazy team to work with. Don’t get me wrong – I know he’s the only hard worker in the playoff disasters, but he’s just that – a hard-working INDIVIDUAL. He doesn’t inspire the people around him. He’s not really sure how. He just puts his head down and tries to win alone. That doesn’t work. Look at Vancouver – same problem. They need a guy more like Iginla or Toews to drive the whole team forward at once, and wingers who don’t quit when it counts. Ovi’s fantastic, but he’s practically alone and better-off as an assistant captain than the captain himself. He’s only human.

  2. jpelle82 - Oct 19, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    maybe he needs a day off to clear his head and come back refreshed. who knows. i do know his only goal was a unintentional deflection and he has been consistently hitting goalies in the logo on his own shots. something’s gotta give

  3. watermelon1 - Oct 19, 2011 at 5:38 PM

    As long as he’s not injured, this slow start is nothing but a BLESSING for the Capitals. They are winning without having to rely solely on him.

    If the unfortunate injury bug does bite Ovechkin this season, the rest of the team won’t have such an emotional let-down if they’ve been winning without leaning solely on him. And just think, when he finally does get his game back… this team could finally take the next step.

  4. mrkrabbs571 - Oct 20, 2011 at 1:39 AM

    Gee Whiz! Does anyone think that the recent illness and death of his Uncle and the tragic death of many of his friends on the Locomotiv team might have something to do with it? He’s only what ? 26 years old? Give the guy a break!

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