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Ovechkin plays just 3:33 in first period

Apr 30, 2012, 8:32 PM EDT

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 30: (L-R) Goalie Braden Holtby #70 and Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals look on from the tunnel prior to taking the ice to play against the New York Rangers in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 30, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) Getty Images

Alex Ovechkin comes with a $9,538,462 annual cap hit. That’s the thought that echoes through my head when I look at his ice time over the first period: a mere 3:33 minutes.

That’s less than all but four Capitals’ players.

We’ve spent a fair amount of time talking about the Capitals defense and goaltending, more specifically, how they need Braden Holtby to be a hero if they are to defeat the New York Rangers. That’s because the players who are paid to be the heroes in Washington have been overshadowed in their playoff run. Now, the face of the franchise is barely even playing.

Now, you could argue that a single period is a small sample size and while that does have some merit, it’s still true that the Capitals declined to use him even under what appeared to be favorable circumstances. Additionally, this is a big deal primarily because it is the latest link in a chain of troubling events surrounding Ovechkin.

To Capitals coach Dale Hunter’s credit, his system has worked and his strategies have paid off. He got this team to the playoffs – albeit barely – and past the Boston Bruins in the first round. Washington fell short in Game 1 of their second round series against the New York Rangers, but they’ve come out to a 2-1 lead in Game 2 despite Ovechkin’s minimal playing time.

At the end of the day, Hunter’s job is to win games and so far he’s done that, but Ovechkin can’t be a role player, a situational guy, or a bottom-six forward. His $9,538,462 annual cap hit will not allow for that to happen.

Be it in a period, a day, a week, or a year, something’s got to give. Ovechkin has to start playing like Ovechkin – in addition to simply playing – or the dream that Washington had when they first selected him will turn into a nightmare.

  1. Stiller43 - Apr 30, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    Maybe theyre saving him for the finals?

  2. phillyphever - Apr 30, 2012 at 8:56 PM

    Sooner or later, people are gonna realize that Ovechkin isn’t the same player he was his first 5 years. The skills are still there, but he’s not the finisher he was back then.

  3. caps247 - Apr 30, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    I hope his drastically reduced ice time doesn’t lead to resentment between him and Hunter. We don’t need another “the players won’t play for the coach” situation like we did with Brucie Boudreau.

  4. holtbeast - Apr 30, 2012 at 10:20 PM

    Hunter knows how to use him. Go Caps!!

  5. cspsrbums - Apr 30, 2012 at 10:47 PM

    Total 13 some odd min 7 shots 1 goal 4 hits not a bad night for 13 min

  6. babykaby - May 1, 2012 at 5:55 AM

    Ovechkin doesn’t need to play twenty minutes every game to make a difference. That’s how good he is. It’s a long hard road to the cup. Why wear out your best players when they aren’t needed just to appease the idiot press. He’ll need most of his energy in the finals. The Caps are a team that plays like a team, everyone has a job to do and it’s all for the good of the team. By the way, you’re stupid!!

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