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Alex Ovechkin on barely playing in third: “It is what it is”

Apr 20, 2012, 2:11 AM EDT

Alex Ovechkin Getty Images

While Braden Holtby blossomed into the star of the moment in the third period of a tight 2-1 win against the Boston Bruins, Alex Ovechkin sacrificed like a captain. At least, that’s the best way to spin it to keep the peace for the Washington Capitals, as CSNWashington’s Chuck Gormley explains why Dale Hunter only sent Ovi out for 1:58 of ice time in the game’s final 20 minutes.

Ovechkin assisted on Alex Semin’s second-period goal but his offensive zone giveaway led to Rich Peverley’s goal in the first period.

Hunter simply did not want to run the risk of Ovechkin committing another costly giveaway in the third period of a one-goal game. And Ovechkin was not the only player who sat the bench in the third. Alex Semin took just five shifts in the final period.

There’s been plenty made about Ovechkin getting planted on the bench in the past and – much like tonight – a Capitals’ win wouldn’t kill the questions altogether. To the captain’s credit, Ovi didn’t make anything more than a fuss then using the classic sad salesman’s phrase “it is what it is.”

“The third period we play safe,” Ovechkin said. “It is what it is. We take this win. It was very important mentally.”

The Capitals might have won it for Nicky, but Ovi took one for the team.

  1. murtdurt - Apr 20, 2012 at 2:22 AM

    Everyone gives Ovi a hard time about not being a true leader but this speaks to the captain he’s becoming. Cuz you know in a tight game, playing the defending cup champs, at home, in the third period, the bench is exactly where I would want my captain to be….

    • jpelle82 - Apr 20, 2012 at 9:40 AM

      you speak to the true problem, ovechkin as the captain. you are right you shouldnt have your captain on the bench in the 3rd period of a 2-1 game. but then again you shouldnt have a captain who cant play defense either. why would you play him, especially when your 4th line is dominating like they were last night in their own zone?

      • davidpcoelho - Apr 20, 2012 at 10:58 AM

        I am a Caps fan. I thought that making Ovi a Captain was the worst move Bruce ever did but you cannot change that now.

        That being said, he is a scorer first and foremost. We did not need scorers on the ice. Dale did what he felt needed to be done. Ovi seems to be buying in too. BB sat him for a shift and got called a “Fat F$%#”.

        And Ovi (Backstrom and Semin too) get a little rest before the back-to-back away games to boot.

  2. stakex - Apr 20, 2012 at 3:14 AM

    This just wasn’t a good choice by Hunter. Did Ovi make a bad turn over that cost them? Sure, but hes the captian and by far the best player the Caps have. He has to be on the ice when it matter most… and generally speaking, the Caps aren’t a good enough team to sit on a 1 goal lead for 25 minutes. When they play more up tempo they look so much better, but when they sit back like they did tonight they give up far too many quality scoring chances. If the Bruins weren’t misfiring, this game would have been a blowout.

    Id also point out that Boudreau use to play Ovi a TON during these kid of situations, and over the last three years he had a +77 +/- rating. Thats pretty impressive for someone whos always labled a “bad” defensive player.

    • jpelle82 - Apr 20, 2012 at 11:31 AM

      they were also scoring 6-8 goals per game then. everyone on the team with a heartbeat was +77 (hyperbole but you get my drift). he didnt play d then and he doesnt now. he floats between the blue lines and waits for an outlet pass. not gonna cut it with a 2-1 lead in the 3rd period of a playoff game.

  3. gopokes3281 - Apr 20, 2012 at 3:37 AM

    Caps did just fine defensively without him. I don’t think the Bruins got a shot on goal in the last 7 or 8 minutes. Give Hunter credit. He put the right guys out there to shut down the Bruins. Sure, Ovi probably wouldn’t have made a mistake and probably could have helped shut them down, but the Bruins didn’t score so there’s no reason to complain. Hunter seems irrational in decisions like this at times, but I guess it’s part of being held accountable. Can’t hold guys like Joel Ward accountable and give guys like Ovi star treatment. Everyone is treated equal in Hunter’s book and it seems to be paying off. Semin playing defense and diving in front of shots?! Never saw that when Boudreau was on the bench.

  4. hockeyflow33 - Apr 20, 2012 at 7:38 AM

    I wish the B’s would do this with Lucic

    • cupquest - Apr 20, 2012 at 9:59 AM

      Agreed. He’s been awful.

      • jrillah10 - Apr 20, 2012 at 11:20 AM

        When has he been that great? All I see is a guy who grabs stupid penalties at bad times. His offense is terrible. How about trying to put a shot on goal instead of blasting someone.

      • flavadave10 - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:40 PM

        He’s the new Sean Avery.

  5. novelisthq - Apr 20, 2012 at 8:30 AM

    With a possible 3 games left – 2 on no rest at all – I’d probably bench my firepower to keep them healthy too. Why doesn’t anyone look at it from that angle?

  6. rdurk86 - Apr 20, 2012 at 8:43 AM

    Just another example of Hunter wanting to win the game 0-0.

  7. rdurk86 - Apr 20, 2012 at 8:44 AM

    I think Ovechkin and Seguin are tied for the series lead in turnovers inside the offensive blue line.

  8. rdurk86 - Apr 20, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    Is your best player really your best player if you can’t play him in the 3rd period of a close game?

    • ravenscaps48 - Apr 20, 2012 at 10:37 AM

      Eveyonein DC knows that Nicky Backstrom is our best player…

  9. bleed4philly - Apr 20, 2012 at 9:10 AM

    I love this Ovi, it will better suit his team, even after they lost game 1 in OT, he went right up to Holtby and took the loss off of Holtby’s shoulders. People are going to blame Ovi if they lose cuz he’s the star but he’s above that now, love to see that.

  10. supafinger - Apr 20, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    Hearing rumors this morning on the radio here in DC that both of these guys, Semin and Ovechkin, tweeked a knee. Not sure who that info is coming from but I sure hope it is just Hunter sitting them down and not an injury.

    • flavadave10 - Apr 20, 2012 at 9:29 AM

      He did take a nasty spill at the bench last night and was a little slow to get up. Plus, he has been flanked by Chara and Seidenberg all series long, and he’s getting slammed by them on a fairly consistent basis. That’s probably starting to take its toll on him. The Capitals aren’t winning the Cup without Ovechkin anyway, so I’d rather him be healthy than risk serious injury.

      • jpelle82 - Apr 20, 2012 at 9:44 AM

        he keeps trying to hit chara and keeps bouncing off. if he keeps it up he might not make it through this series. i dont think the caps are winning the cup period though, especially not WITH ovechkin.

      • flavadave10 - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:25 PM

        Jpelle82: I ask you, who has scored 4 points in a tight 4 games of this series so far? Who was +2 last night? ANSWER: Ovechkin. So there goes your theory.

        And it’s Seidenberg who’s doing most of the damage. Ovechkin and Seidenberg are basically doing a reenactment of a heavyweight title fight on the ice. I’m fine with Ovechkin getting double covered if it means that the Bruins are just going to leave 90 and 19 to be covered by forwards though.

  11. cupquest - Apr 20, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    Sure Holtbe made a ton of saves, but I for one am not ready to annoint him the second coming of Patrick Roy. If you look at the game last night, most of our shots were from the point, very easy saves. Thomas, on the other hand, made some unbelievable stops. He really kept the Bs in it. Granted, we possessed the puck a lot during the game, the Caps really had the better scoring opportunities. i think they hit the pipe a couple of times and Thomas made a couple of ridiculous saves. Coulda been uglier than 2-1.

    • cweez2 - Apr 20, 2012 at 10:32 AM

      They had THREE shots on goal in the first and three in the third period. What scoring opportunities other than the second period? Hunter was playing defensively in the third and it worked.

      • cupquest - Apr 20, 2012 at 11:07 AM

        Stop looking only at SOG. That can be a misleading stat, which is certainly true for last night. For example, Boychuk made an unbelievable sliding block of a Chimera shot on an empty net. That doesnt even count as a shot on goal. We need to get more bodies in front of the net and play the nasty kind of brand of hockey we played in the 3rd game. We are 2x as big as the puny caps and need to play like it.

    • flavadave10 - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:30 PM

      Who the heck is calling him the second coming of Patrick Roy? And yeah, the Bruins have to occupy the garbage areas or at the very least stop testing Holtby’s glove. Holtby’s very confident with his glove. It’s blocker-side where he’s always had trouble.

      I’ll give props to Tim Thomas. He’s made some incredible saves so far in the series. Without Thomas, this series could easily be 3-1 Caps or even over.

      Also, what game were you watching? First period, the Caps’ offense looked like crap. Second period on, they looked a lot better. Probably had something to do with the fact that they finally got their forecheck going.

  12. dowhatifeellike - Apr 20, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    The team was up a goal and in shutdown mode. Ovechkin tries to defend but he’s a defensive liability. He also takes a lot of dumb risks that the defense has to cover for. I’m not surprised he was on the bench and I thought it was a wise mood at the time.

    In baseball terms, he was taken out of the game for a defensive replacement.

    • flavadave10 - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:37 PM

      He used to be a lot better. I think Boudreau let him get away with way too much. He needs a coach who is not going to tolerate anything less than his best. Someone who will actually be blunt when asked about why he was benched. Guarantee you Ovechkin would get the point. I’m not sure who told him to pass the puck so much either.

      And the third and fourth lines were the two best lines during that game, so I had no problem with them seeing lots of playing time.

      Free Mike Knuble.

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