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Why Alex Ovechkin’s benching will work in the long run

Nov 2, 2011, 10:20 AM EDT

Bruce Boudreau, Alex Ovechkin Getty Images

In this age of snap reactions and overreactions, seeing the visceral reaction to what happened with Alex Ovechkin and Bruce Boudreau last night coming from both sides of the fence isn’t stunning. Did Ovechkin cuss out Boudreau? Yeah, he probably did.

After all, when you’re the team’s biggest player and the guy they’ve counted on for years to be “the man” and you’re benched, how would you take it? I know I would’ve been just as angry if not more so.

While it’s fun to speculate about there being player-coach problems and how this could lead to a drama bomb going off in the Caps locker room, the truth here is that this is the kick in the pants that Boudreau felt Ovechkin needed to get the best out of him the rest of the season.

Think about how Ovechkin looks when we see him at his best. He skates with the kind of intensity you rarely see out of anyone in the NHL. He’s a beast on skates playing with the purpose to punish opponents with his powerful goals and physical play.

Last night, we saw neither of those things from Ovechkin. You saw Ovi the dangler, Ovi the passive player, and Ovi the guy on the bench.

We’ll see the Ovechkin of old come back, sooner than later probably, because he’s got pride in how he plays the game. Getting personally embarrassed like that on national television in a game that saw his teammates win without him, we’ll see Ovi the opponents’ nightmare back sooner than you think.

Here are NHL on NBC analysts Mike Keenan and Jeremy Roenick discussing the benching:

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  1. washcaps21 - Nov 2, 2011 at 11:43 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.

    • dipthatchip - Nov 2, 2011 at 11:56 AM

      yep, right now he is the antonym of a two way player. Not saying that he was ever great on the forecheck or in his own zone. However, now he just camps at the blue line and waits for an outlet pass, only to skate straight into two opponents and lose the puck.

      His game has been figured out and he needs to adapt, soon.

  2. watermelon1 - Nov 2, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    Ummm… Wasn’t Ovechkin on the ice for the game winning goal!?! Didn’t he get the game winning assist(or at least dummy the puck and let it go by to backstrom)!?!

    But his team won without him??? When exactly was he even benched? More specifics, because insure missed that…

    • rowbear - Nov 2, 2011 at 1:00 PM

      He was on the ice for the winning goal and he did have the primary assist, but he was not on the ice for the first part of OT and more importantly, he was not on the ice when the Caps tied the game up at 4. Even when the Caps pulled the goalie for a sixth attacker, he was on the bench. This was even after a timeout. He was benched plain and simple. He was nowhere near the best player on the ice for the Caps last night.

  3. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 2, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    All I can say is Bruce is mighty lucky things worked out for him last night and now were talking about how Ovechkin needs to be better rather than how many more days Bruce has a job

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