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Was Alex Ovechkin benched or not?

Mar 5, 2012, 9:13 AM EDT

Alex Ovechkin Getty Images

Last night’s 1-0 Flyers win over the Capitals didn’t come without its share of drama. While Ilya Bryzgalov was busy earning accolades for the shutout, questions surrounded the absence of Alex Ovechkin during the second period.

For over seven minutes following the only goal of the game, Ovechkin sat planted at the end of the bench. Perhaps because he admittedly turned the puck over then later failed to block the shot that led to the goal.

“It’s tough loss for us, I think,” Ovechkin told reporters. “My mistake cost us two points and it cost us the game.”

Coach Dale Hunter, meanwhile, denied he benched his leading scorer.

“Guys, it’s not a benching. Maybe he missed a shift. Guys, I was matching lines,” Hunter explained. “I definitely was matching lines, it was one of those things that he wasn’t the right match up. I didn’t want him against [Jaromir] Jagr and Jagr’s line.”

Fair enough. But when a guy sits for over seven minutes, that sure seems like a benching.

And if Ovechkin was being taught a lesson in accountability, as’s Chuck Gormley asserts, it points to a bigger problem for the Caps —  the fact its captain has to be taught accountability with the season on the line.


  1. polegojim - Mar 5, 2012 at 9:23 AM

    So Coach Hunter – you’re saying that Ovi is now a ROLE player who gets ice time only when the other teams match-ups are right???


    I thought you put Ovi on the ice and FORCE the other team to match-up against him???

    Coach, that smells like a benching…or even worse, a total lack of confidence.

  2. xxshookonexx - Mar 5, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    Equipment malfuction? Skate sharpening?

  3. joecat111 - Mar 5, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    I didn’t recall seeing Jagr on the ice for 7+ consecutive minutes. This is another example of Hunter’s poor coaching ability. To not have your so-called best player on the ice for over seven minutes in a benching and is inexcusable.

    • bcjim - Mar 5, 2012 at 10:07 AM

      I am sick to death of people cracking on DH’s “coaching ability”

      Go back and look at any number of “revered” coaches and tell us what their record was early on.

      Ken Hitchcock (for example): No playing experience, stellar Jr coaching record, 15-23 NHL start

      DH32: Legendary NHL player with 19yrs experience. Team Leader, stellar Jr. coaching record, 20-19 (so far) NHL start.

      Can we give they guy a chance before we condemn him??

      • dcfan4life - Mar 5, 2012 at 2:06 PM

        I have watched most of the games under Dale Hunter, and the man has trouble adjusting. He makes poor decisions, challenges his players in the wrong manor (usually embarassing them) and flip flops on why he embarassed them. The way he has handles the benching of Knuble and Hamerlik, though deserved, was poor. His matching of lines, worse, and he reasoning behind other healthy scratches make no sense. Last night he scratched Aucoun, a top goal scorer promoted from the Hershey Bears in favor of who, Joel Ward, Jeff Beagle, Mike Knuble? And how many goals do these guys have? And how many goals did we score yesterday? And thats not bad coaching…?

      • bcjim - Mar 5, 2012 at 4:01 PM

        Aucoin is a career AHler. Of those 3 he is the likely scratch 9/10x

  4. gilbertcapsfan94 - Mar 5, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    Love ya hunter but that does does sound like lack of confidence in ur star player…. But can u blame him?? Ovi is haveing plenty of problems effecting the team… I used to think it could be fixed in time for the play offs but that doesn’t seem to b the case anymore… I have faith that my fav caps player can solve his problems in the off season but the question is will the caps wait that long???

    • stakex - Mar 5, 2012 at 11:40 AM

      The thing is, you live and you die by your star players. Is Ovechkin having a bad year? Yes. Did he make a bad play that resulted in a goal? Yes. However this was a game that Caps reallly needed to win and Ovechkin was still their best player on the ice last night… and you cannot aford to have him sitting on the bench when you absolutely need a goal.

      Another thing I would point out is that Ovechkin was only on the ice for 1 of the 5 goals against in their last game, yet no one else was benched despite how awful some of the Caps players looked. If your going to punish players for bad play, thats fine… but to single out your best player in a close game you need to win? Thats a horrible coaching call.

      • dcfan4life - Mar 5, 2012 at 2:14 PM

        Honostly, for most of the league, the comment “you live and die by your star players” doesnt apply. I think in Hockey the supporting cast makes all the difference. Take the Penguins for example. Or the Bruins, Flyers, Rangers, Canucks, Blackhawks, Red Wings. All those team seem to have the ability to adjust to losing top players for games. Did you see how many key players were missing for the Flyers last night? There offenses are so spread out that multiple lines are very dangerous. The Capitals dont have that. So that comment seems to apply hear with Backstrom out and Ovie Struggling something awful, but thats the problem. It should apply to good teams. The Caps are just not a good team anymore…

      • johninpa - Mar 6, 2012 at 9:40 AM

        A star player should also elevate the players around him, especially if he is wearing the “C” on his sweater. Ovechkin has never really done that. If the report about his weight (242#) that came out last week is accurate, it suggests he isn’t in the best of shape as well. Great players work hard, lead the team, elevate their team mates and win. Right now I don’t think you can think of him in that way. Natural talent is only going to take you so far.

  5. hockeyfan1701 - Mar 5, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    Maybe it is time for not so “Great 8” to look for a new home. They changed some things (IE Bruce) and yet nothing seems to get better. Maybe an off season trade is the answer.

    • govtminion - Mar 5, 2012 at 10:04 AM

      That would be a blockbuster trade… problem is, with his downward trend the past couple of years, the lack of interest… do you think the Caps would get a decent return from anyone for him?

      • stakex - Mar 5, 2012 at 11:53 AM

        Uh, yeah?

        It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that a lot of Ovechkin’s problems, are the Caps problems. The Caps don’t have a number one center to play with Oveckin (or a number two center for that matter), they are trying to force a defense first system with a team built for offense, and there is simply zero and I mean zero chemistry between any of the Caps right now. Not to mention the quality of their current coach is in serious question, especially since hes basicaly doing what Boudreau did… which obviously didn’t work. All of this has resulted in a massive drop in scoring for the Caps as a whole over the last 2 years, and Ovechkin’s numbers have fallen off along those lines.

        I don’t care who you are, or how good you are… your going to struggle in that situation, and other teams know that. If Ovechkin was on the market (he won’t be), you would have 30 teams throwing themselves at him. It might be a risk for those teams, but given what Ovechkin is capable of… its a risk every team would take if they could afford it.

    • grimlock410 - Mar 5, 2012 at 1:59 PM

      You build a hockey team down the middle. No center = no good. I respect matty p but really he’s a AHL player and johansson has been a huge disappointment. And lets be real this horrid year OV is having is probably going to end with 35ish goals.

    • superross - Mar 6, 2012 at 1:44 AM

      I would love to trade Gomez for Overskin, but Gauthier probably wouldn’t pull the trigger!

  6. govtminion - Mar 5, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    So the team is playing like crap, no one is listening to the coach, veterans are grumbling, and Ovechkin is getting benched.

    …so nothing really has changed since Boudreau was fired. Got it.

    • dcfan4life - Mar 5, 2012 at 2:16 PM

      Well the excuses changed…

  7. grillmarks - Mar 5, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    It’s pretty apparent to anyone with any hockey sense who watches the Caps play that Ovi is a selfish teammate. Time to give the captaincy to someone who deserves it… i.e. Brooks Laich.

  8. ddlee5000 - Mar 5, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    Trade Ovie to Columbus for Rick Nash!!

    • bhawkce - Mar 5, 2012 at 12:57 PM

      pffff..think Carter threw a pouty puss fit? could you imagine if Ovie came to Columbus?? they wouldn’t sell enough tissues for the cry baby fit he would throw!

      • balewsquare - Mar 5, 2012 at 4:30 PM

        I know this does not involve real life, but hear me out: I had NHL ’11 (great game), and for how realistic it was, in GM Mode, Ovie was traded to Columbus….umm….what?

  9. dougr42 - Mar 5, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    The Caps’ problems start at the top. Time for a GM change. Leonsis needs to clean house.

    • rainyday56 - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:16 AM

      Leonsis IS the top. He should sell the team to someone who knows something about hockey.

  10. lsxphotog - Mar 5, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    Credit to the Caps for holding the Flyers to only one goal, though.

    On a side note: Keep on losing, Washington.

    Lightning Fan.

  11. ray21230 - Mar 5, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    I am so tired of so called Caps fans calling for an Ovechkin trade, not one of us ever wants to see # 8 in a different color sweater, especially across the blue line every professional athlete has a bad year this is his i would never trade him the only player that would ever trade him for wore #99 and he doesnt play anymore so everybody needs to back our star and trust that he will get things back in order. Life and the Caps will be better next year, Nicky will be back , Greeny will have time and we will be back on top.

  12. upyoursnfu - Mar 5, 2012 at 5:52 PM

    Selfish player

  13. bmorethansteel - Mar 6, 2012 at 7:11 AM

    Doesn’t matter anymore. Tired of hearing this healthy scratch, benching, etc BS. Start the rebuilding process now!!! The season is lost and now is the time to start thinking of your next move. Yeah, I’m talking to you McPhee! That is, if you value your job. You value your job don’t you?

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