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Backstrom the hero, but where was Ovechkin?

Nov 1, 2011, 11:00 PM EDT

Nashville Predators v Washington Capitals Getty Images

After falling behind 3-0, the Washington Capitals stormed back for a thrilling 5-4 win in the nation’s capital. Things didn’t start out well for the Caps as Selanne set up a Saku Koivu for the first goal, then scored a pair of his own to help the Ducks jump out to their big lead. But some shaky defense and equally shaky goaltending proved that no lead was insurmountable on Tuesday night.

Despite Selanne scoring his fourth point of the night, Nicklas Backstrom was able to cash in the game-tying goal with only 42 seconds left in the game. As if that wasn’t enough, Backstrom topped the last minute goal with the OT game-winner halfway through the 4-on-4 overtime period. All’s well that ends well for Caps fans, right?

For most of the night, it looked like the story of game would be Teemu Selanne drinking gallons from the fountain of youth. The struggling Ducks needed a good start in Washington—and the strong first period was just what the doctor ordered. Or so we thought.

The Ducks are going to wonder what happened as they continue their brutal 7-game road trip. They jumped out to a big lead and only sloppy play allowed the Caps back in the game. The loss drops them to 1-5-1 in their last 7; a far cry from the team that was coming off a 4-game winning streak.

One of the big stories after the game may not be the guys who contributed to the game-tying goal at the end of the game, but the guy who was not on the ice. When the Caps desperately needed a goal to tie the game, they pulled their goaltender for an extra skater. Even with six guys on the ice to create offense, Caps head coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t have Alex Ovechkin on the ice.

When OT started, again Ovechkin was not on the ice to start the extra frame causing even more questions to be asked. But that game-winning goal? It was Ovechkin who kicked the puck over to his teammate. So it wasn’t all bad for the Russian sniper.

Fans should be happy with the late, comeback win. But what’s up with their captain and the head coach?

  1. trbowman - Nov 1, 2011 at 11:10 PM

    Joel Ward swag

  2. dowhatifeellike - Nov 1, 2011 at 11:38 PM

    When a guy isn’t getting it done, he sits. Fame and popularity are trumped by production.

  3. stakex - Nov 2, 2011 at 12:16 AM

    I must say this left me scratching my head.

    Sure, Ovechkin wasn’t having a great game or anything, but it certainly didn’t look like he was playing so bad as to warrent being benched when his team really needed a goal. I could understand if he was on a long goal drout, or wasn’t putting up solid numbers this season… but thats not the case. Ovechkin had 5 goals and 4 assists in 9 games leading up to tonight, which isn’t great for Ovechkin buts its not bad either. So on really has to wonder what the hell Boudreau was thinking. I would like to think he was trying to throw the Ducks a curve ball…… but even that doesn’t make much sense.

    The bottom line is you just don’t bench one of the best players, and the best goal scorer in the world when a game is on the line… especially when theres really no visible reason for it. Boudreau got lucky and the Caps won, but if I was the GM Boudreau would be getting a nice long talking to right now. Theres time to make a point, and that time is not the last minute of a game in which you trail.

    • yeaimty - Nov 2, 2011 at 12:39 AM

      You realize they won right?

      • stakex - Nov 2, 2011 at 2:14 AM

        This time…. but if your a Caps fan (I’m not), you have to be concerned when your coach is benching your best player for what seems like little to no reason. Ovechkin had an off game, but he had 4 goals and 2 assist in the 4 games leading up to tonights game…. and your sitting him when you need a goal? Still can’t make sense out of that one.

    • t9tookey - Nov 2, 2011 at 5:48 AM

      It actually makes perfect sense. The knock on Bruce is that he hasn’t been hard on the stars on his team and they’ve been skating by in certain situations. Bruce is out to let these guys know that they need to play hard every game, every shift or they get parked on the bench. It also shows that guys that, if you are playing well, you get rewarded for it.

      Also remember, this is an early season game against a team from the other conference, Bruce wasn’t gambling much here. I loss in this game doesn’t hurt as much as if they’re playing another Eastern Conference team. I have little doubt that if this was a late season game with playoff standings on the line or a playoff game, Ovie is out there.

      The media is creating the story on this one. Ovie isn’t the first superstar to get benched because the coach is trying to make a point and he won’t be the last.

  4. rainyday56 - Nov 2, 2011 at 3:45 AM

    Boudreau doesn’t kiss O’s butt. That job belongs to the Cap’s owner.

  5. washcaps21 - Nov 2, 2011 at 8:23 AM

    The guys on NHL Overtime said it best last night. If this didn’t work out Ovi would have boudreau eating out of his hand but because it worked Ovi is now bruces’ puppet. I’m all for benching a player who doesn’t perform well and honestly while watching the game last night I found myself saying “C’mon ovechkin fuckin skate!” He just seemed lackadaisical last night and was leaving passing lanes wide open for the Ducks. I think Ovi is trying to hit that homerun play. He tends to sit back and watch the play then once there’s a loose puck he either breaks for the blue line or tries to pick up the puck and dangle till there’s no tomorrow. He needs to go back to when he was throwing his body around making the play to get the puck rather than being a camper and waiting for the puck to get jarred loose then make a break for it.

  6. danphipps01 - Nov 2, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    Seems like Ovi’s gotten lazy lately. Starting last season and continuing on, he’s not been nearly as physical as he can be and normally WAS. Like waspcaps21 said, it seems like for the most part he just sits and watches, waiting for a chance to dance in and score a self-made highlight-reel goal to be the star again. To a degree, that’s always been the problem – it’s just that it was less emphasized a few years ago when A) the Caps didn’t have many other goal-scorers and B) he still made it happen fifty or sixty times. Even in the playoffs, where he’s been praised as the only hard worker when the Caps as a whole choke (your mileage may vary on that claim, as mine does, but it’s one that’s made a lot), HOW he does it is key – he tries to make the goals come alone. Even in a game 5/6/7 situation, with the team down and desperately needing some magic, his solution is to try to do it all himself.

    In short, he’s not exactly the world’s most team-oriented player. Like I said, it’s been acceptable in past years, but now Ovi’s not producing as much – goalies and defensemen have figured out where he likes to go and how he likes to shoot and he simply doesn’t hit or grind like he COULD to force the issue anyway. He’s nine and a half million dollars of questionable performance and Boudreau sees that he’s got other players to rely on – so now he can actually punish Ovechkin for not doing enough without leaving his team unable to score, and he is. I’m glad the Caps are so much more rounded this year. Their stars have always had a reputation for being soft under pressure and with new challengers for their roles they have to step it up and play at their best. Basically, he needs to get back to his badass scoring-all-the-time form to stay out of the doghouse. He’s way, way better than this.

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