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Is Dale Hunter making the right moves with Alex Ovechkin?

Apr 30, 2012, 10:51 PM EDT

St Louis Blues v Washington Capitals Getty Images

Alex Ovechkin had one of the strangest nights a star player can experience in the Washington Capitals’ 3-2 Game 2 win against the New York Rangers.

He started off the night with a laughable 3:33 of ice time through the first period and finished with just 13:36 overall, yet he made the most of his rare nibbles. Ovechkin fired seven shots on goal, with one of them besting Henrik Lundqvist for the game-winner. He also blocked a shot and threw two hits in about as a dominant contest as you can have in less than 14 minutes of ice time.

While Ovechkin’s GWG drew the headlines, the continued short leash from Dale Hunter might just have the biggest influence on the series as the venue shifts to DC.

For better or worse, Hunter and the Capitals seem content to depend more upon their reinforced defensive mindset and Braden Holtby in net rather than letting Ovechkin and their other stars roam free. Many probably believe that Washington’s victories speak for themselves while critics believe that Holtby’s strong play might make Hunter look wiser than he’s really been.

Hunter’s explanation was as milquetoast as one might expect from the far-from-verbose coach. Here’s his comment on the ice time situation, via Stephen Whyno.

“Four lines and six D were all going tonight,” Hunter said. “They were all going hard, so it’s easy to play everybody.”

(Note: some, like Jay Beagle – who played just under 20 minutes – played more than others, though.)

So what do you think? Is Hunter crazy or crazy like a fox when it comes to the way he’s handling Ovechkin? Share your thoughts in the comments.

  1. stakex - Apr 30, 2012 at 11:18 PM

    Its fine by me for the Caps to only play Ovechkin for 14 minutes a game for the rest of the series. Hes their best player by far, and the more hes on the bench the better it is for the Rangers (or any team the Caps play). After all, you can score goals from the bench.

  2. goalieguy37 - May 1, 2012 at 1:28 AM

    what better way to stimulate one of the biggest egos in professional hockey? I’m glad he’s being held accountable. it’ll make for a better Alex Ovetchkin in the future. the game needs that weather you’re a caps fan or not.

  3. babykaby - May 1, 2012 at 6:08 AM

    It’s funny. When Ovie plays a lot of minutes they question why Hunter is playing him so much because he isn’t one of their better defensive players. When he plays fewer minutes they question why Hunter isn’t playing him more. The Caps are in the second round of the playoffs tied 1-1 with the number one seed and still the idiots that believe themselves to bethe press just don’t get it. Quit trying to stir up something that doesn’t exist on this team. Any player that doesn’t want as much ice time as he can get doesn’t have the passion. Ovie wants to play more as does every player on the team. One thing for sure, when he’s sitting he is the biggest cheerleader on the team and when he’s playing he’s giving his all.

  4. capsfan19 - May 1, 2012 at 9:58 AM

    Hunter has the balls to do what bruce couldnt. I would listen to the man too!
    It’s like holding a pitbull back on a chain, when that dog gets loose he’s gonna bite.

  5. mgp1219 - May 1, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    Dale Hunter is still, and always will be, a douchebag no matter how well or how porrly he coahes any team.

  6. caps247 - May 1, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    Well, this is what worked against the Bruins. The less Ovie was on the ice, the less Chara and Seidenberg were on. It’s that action that allowed the 3-4th lines to be the heroes. It’s the same thing with Girardi and McDonagh, the less Ovie is on the ice the less they can defend, and the more the Caps 3-4 lines can win the game.

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