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Capitals admit they’re “pretty useless” without productive Ovechkin, Semin

Dec 29, 2011, 8:54 PM EDT

Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Tomas Fleischmann AP

The Washington Capitals looked an awful lot like the dangerous team the hockey world expected last night, handling the New York Rangers 4-1.

Alex Ovechkin (two assists) and Alexander Semin (two goals) were a big part of that, prompting Jason Chimera to provide a very frank assessment of the team’s chances without those two snipers to CSNWashington.com’s Chuck Gormley.

“Ultimately, if we want to win a Stanley Cup we need them going,” Jason Chimera said. “I think they know that. We gave the fans a glimpse of what we could be. Everyone else can be going, but if those two guys are not going our team is pretty useless.”

For years it seemed like the Capitals knew what they were getting from Ovechkin while Semin was the wild card. Now both seem unreliable, which can be seen in the fact that the Rangers game was Ovi’s first multiple point contest since Nov. 4.

Growing pains

To some extent, it might come down to the Capitals’ growing pains as they continue their debatable transition from an unabashed attacking team to a more traditional system. If you ask John Erskine, guys like Ovechkin and Semin must commit to the not-so-glamorous rigors of the dump-and-chase.

“If they’re going down 1-on-3 we need those skill players to dump the puck instead of trying to deke everybody out and you basically have no chance,” defenseman John Erskine said. “[Wednesday] night, it was not just them, everybody was buying in.”

Finding the right compromise

Last night’s win wasn’t a testament to grinding opponents to a turnover-prone pulp, though.

Instead, it showed how well Ovechkin and Semin can play when they’re engaged and proactive, making great passes rather than trying to do too much (like going one-on-everyone). It was an exhibition of smooth puck movement and lightning-fast decision making, not just buying into the dump-and-chase.

What do you think, though? Should Ovechkin and Semin chip the puck in by default or should the Capitals continue to try to find a compromise between two extremes?

  1. icelovinbrotha215 - Dec 29, 2011 at 9:45 PM

    Doesn’t that apply to all teams and their respective stars?

    • danphipps01 - Dec 30, 2011 at 4:35 AM

      Yes, but most of them aren’t lauded as the best goal-scorer in the NHL. Most haven’t won the Art Ross once and the Rocket Richard and Hart twice in their careers, let alone since 2008. This guy was once compared to Sidney Crosby as an equal, though I’ve noticed that hasn’t happened much since he hit a brick wall in goal-scoring. Frankly, there are stars, and then there’s what Alexander Ovechkin is supposed to be – a star AMONG stars. When the guy who notched 65 goals and 112 points in ’08 is on pace for 28 and 63 this season, it’s substantially more noticeable than when, say, Rick Nash has a bad month. The Capitals, as Chimera correctly notes, are useless without him. And Chimera’s better-equipped to speak than anyone, really – he’s been trying to carry the team on his back for a month and it just isn’t working. He’s playing at a level he’s never played at in his life and unless Ovechkin starts playing at even TWO-THIRDS the level he’s played at for four or five years CONSECUTIVELY, Chimera’s efforts will be completely wasted.

      So, yeah. Ball’s in your court, Ovi. Maybe try picking it up and doing something?

  2. bcjim - Dec 29, 2011 at 9:54 PM

    The Caps stars need to commit to the forecheck imo. When the opponent is forced into mistakes, that is when the highlight reel goals come easy.

    But yes, in answer to the question, good judgement is what is needed, not all dump or all deke.

  3. hulkhogan69 - Dec 30, 2011 at 1:25 AM

    A talentless slug like John Erskine telling Ovie how to play? Really? Really?

    • danphipps01 - Dec 30, 2011 at 4:01 AM

      Yeah. Based on how Ovi’s gone from 65 goals to a projected… 28-35-63 this year, maybe it’s about time someone started criticizing. It’s not coming from the staff. They already fired one coach because Ovi didn’t like being pushed. And Christ knows the fans are too rabid to acknowledge his faults. So, if a teammate or two have the balls to say “Yeah, time to accept that you’re not doing enough. We need you back to win.” a mature leader would consider it high fucking time to listen.

      Then again, this is Ovechkin we’re talking about, so don’t expect much of a change.

  4. bcjim - Dec 30, 2011 at 7:33 AM

    @hh69

    No cap fans have any problem with it I assure you. Ovs point production is down. Why? Don’t know, but at some point, someone has to say something.

    Erskine may not be aNorris candidate, but has other responsibilities which he takes care of pretty well, I’m happy to have a guy that can pummel just about anyone, yet is still a legitimate nhl player unlike some goons

  5. polegojim - Dec 30, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    Sorry guys – my theory on O is proven true regularly –

    Awesome stretches – Then he takes several weeks off and mails in his games.
    Keep cashing those checks O. Keep watching the Stanley Cup from home.

    Will Pro sports ever smarten up and actually pay for RESULTS instead of guaranted millions?

    Imagine – an NHL standard base salary of $250k, +$100k for winning first round, +$150k for winning second round and +$500k for winning the Stanley Cup. Tweak it up for the superstars, but if you don’t win, you don’t get paid. Pay for performance…Hey, isn’t that how the REST of us get paid? Or use the same method as PGA and Tennis – is it any wonder why those guys always seem to play hungry?
    Pay per final placement results.

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