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No, Ovechkin’s missed hit on Stepan wasn’t the right play, says coach Oates

Mar 11, 2013, 12:43 PM EDT

Alex Ovechkin may play under the NHL’s most powerful microscope. Whether deserved or media overkill, it’s hard to think of another player whose game is picked apart to the extent of the Washington captain’s. One day, he needs to knock off all the turnovers at the blue line. The next, he has to add more to his repertoire than cutting to the middle and shooting. Oh, and don’t forget to skate on to pucks in the neutral zone. Also, line changes — he needs to do those better, too.

Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the Rangers gave onlookers another play to scrutinize:

Ovechkin’s missed hit on New York forward Derek Stepan created a 3-on-2 for the Rangers, which New York quickly converted.

After the game, Caps coach Adam Oates was asked if it was the right play for Ovechkin to step up and attempt to nail Stepan.

“No. It’s not,” Oates said, per the Washington Post. “We have tracking rules, and I think he was gonna hit him and he let him go, and because of that we got a little out of position.”

The 10-13-1 Caps — currently seven points out of a playoff spot — host Carolina Tuesday.

Related: Ovechkin wants referees to respect the Capitals

  1. operwapitsai - Mar 11, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    I just dont know anymore…

  2. pone27 - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    While I am not a big fan of Ovie, I do agree that he faces a ton of overly needed scrutiny.

    It’s really not his fault that he is ten fold the Caps biggest offensive power house scoring wise. The thing is, fans/media try to make Ovechkin out to be this spectacular two way forward, when in reality, he really is just a sniper with the ability (if he can land one) to deliver hard hits.

    Fans/media can get on Ovie if he misses point blank shots, open nets, etc. because that’s what his job is, but to sit here and criticize him for a check and act like thats why they lost? People are reaching here.

    Plain and simple, the Caps are a mediocre team right now. They need more than to get Ribeiro to make them a top team in the East. Stop pointing the fingers at one or two players and a former coach and look at the roster.

    • sportsfreak13 - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:06 PM

      If ovie wants to be great then he should develope/expand his game. Hes the captain of that team and with that comes certain expectations. You shouldnt make a one dimensional player captain just because hes the highest paid player on your team. His lack of attention to detail on the defensive side of the puck is troubling and downright putrid during some games (Mike Milbury would testify to this). I think he might need to be traded to a team where he doesnt have to be THE guy on a team.

      • budvw14 - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:53 PM

        You speak of Washington like its Philly or New York. Exactly what expectations come with playing in Washington?? DC should be used to receiving lack luster performances from overpaid stars. They’ve been doing so for years! The guy is just an enigmatic Russian player. They play lazy D with primary focus on scoring. It’s the culture they’re trained in. Just watch a KHL game. Guys like Datsyuk or the exception when it comes to Russians, guys like Ovie and Semin are the norm.

      • sportsfreak13 - Mar 11, 2013 at 2:53 PM

        When your the captain of an NHL team the expectations are going to be high regardless what town you play in. These are the best hockey players in the wolrd and your a captain of 1 out of 30 teams. Malkin isn’t lazy, he was tops in the NHL in takeways last year. That is a stereotype that us americans give russian players based solely off guys like kovy,semin, and ovie being so offensive and not so defensive. Semin hasnt been bad this year defensively though.

    • stakex - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:54 PM

      I think the lack of tallent on the Caps really can’t be under stated. I don’t care if Ovechkin was playing his best hockey, and was leadign the league in points right now… the Caps would still be a so-so team at best.

      I mean this play sums its up pretty well. Should Ovechkin delivered the hit? Perhaps… but similar hits have been penelized this year (it would have been borderline late), and with a record of being suspended I don’t blame Ovechkin for erroring on the safe side. He probably shouldn’t even have tried to line him up in the first place.

      However, the goal was scored because of shoddy defense and a horrible play by Holtby. Ovechkins non-hit had very little to do with the actual goal… yet the terrible play by the rest of the team is ignored and the goal blamed on a play that happened in the neutral zone.

  3. ironyisadeadscene - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:03 PM

    Millions of dollars to play a lazy brand of hockey. He deserves to be scrutinized.

    • crosberries - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:47 PM

      Exactly don’t take the contract if you can’t live up to it. Take 5 million a year and no one would say a word but your the captain and the highest paid

  4. ravenscaps48 - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    The entire team is LAZY, not just the captain!

  5. mclovinhockey - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    I could see a buyout or trade coming if this is any other franchise besides the caps. Washington runs the franchise to just give locals a night out. AO sells tickets. That’s all they really care about.

  6. pwilson264 - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    don’t know what’s going through Ovechkins mind he just let Stepan skate on by to score . the old OV would of laid Stepan out on the ice. didn’t even put his stick down to defend, looks like he’s given up.

    • stakex - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:58 PM

      How did he “let Stepan skate on by to score”? Stepan had just passed the puck before Ovechkin backed off the hit. Its not as though Stepan had the puck, and he just gave up on the play… which is how you make it sound. If he delivered the hit, it would have been borderline late… and having his stick down wouldn’t have done anything since the puck was already gone.

  7. lsxphotog - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    At least he hustled to get back into the play! Oh, wait…

  8. bennywuh - Mar 11, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    You’ve got to be kidding me – had Ovie chose to land it, he would have been called for a blindsided hit after Stepan had released the puck. He’d be fined and suspended for 4-5 games. Looks like he knew this and chose to play clean – it cost them a goal – but Stepan still has he head attached. Good Move Ovie, Love – a Wings fan.

  9. gaborik104life - Mar 11, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    He would have wrecked Stepan first off and a penalty may have been called. On top of that Stepan side stepped at the last second Ov probably would have kneed him had he not avoided him. While it did result in a goal being scored and Ov should have hustled back the play would have ended up badly if he went for the body.

  10. hockeydon10 - Mar 11, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    Where the hell was the center? They seriously had Ovie playing the third man back in a defensive position?

    While I’m no hockey coach, I would never let him be the third defensive player in that sort of situation.

    (Also, horrid play by Holtby.)

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