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Caps need ‘better effort from the top guys,’ says one of their top guys

Mar 25, 2014, 11:46 AM EDT

Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Alex Ovechkin AP

The Washington Capitals may have won four of their last five and put themselves right back in the playoff picture, but not all of them are satisfied with how they’re playing.

“I think something that the first two lines need to do is look at our third line,” center Nicklas Backstrom said, per the Washington Post.

“They’re cycling the puck, and off that they create chances. I think our first lines haven’t been doing that, not the whole year. That’s something we need to do. We’ve been talking about it but we need a better effort from the top guys for sure.”

In a related story, CSN Washington notes that the Caps have been winning despite a lack of goals from one Alex Ovechkin, who has just three tallies — all of them on the power play — in his last 11 games.

No doubt, some of that has to do with coach Adam Oates’ decision to move grinding center Jay Beagle — he of the 14 career assists — onto Ovechkin’s line.

But there was a reason Oates did that:

Before he was united with Beagle, Ovechkin was a minus player in nine straight games for a combined minus-14. In his last three games he’s been even on the plus-minus sheet, which means he’s not watching other teams score, a problem evidenced by his minus-31 rating.

The Caps host Los Angeles tonight before welcoming the Bruins to town Saturday.

With Toronto in collapse mode, Columbus treading water, and Detroit still badly banged up, there’s renewed optimism in DC, regardless of how the wins are being earned.

  1. lowenni - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    Without a doubt. Backstrom’s line will do this (Backstrom’s great at moving the puck around the offensive zone), but Ovechkin is too lazy on his shifts sometimes and doesn’t put serious effort into cycling the puck. When he was playing with Backstrom he could do that and Nicky would still get him the puck just cause of pure skill, but the reason he’s with Beagle is to get his grinding game going. Beags is one of the hardest workers in the league and I frequently see he and Johannson cycling only to have Ovi lose the puck. I’m not convinced that Ovi has a high-level hockey IQ, to be honest. It’s not that Ovechkin isn’t buying into Oates’ system, he’s just not doing a very good job with it.

  2. joey4id - Mar 25, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    This team is so f’d up. You hear the craziest things coming out of that organization at a time when the team should already be running on all cylinders. It’s one thing to lose while playing at your best, but’s it’s a whole other ball game to imply that you’re not performing a well as you should be when we are well into March. They need a change from top to bottom. Get the old blood out and in with the new.

  3. watermelon1 - Mar 25, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    Ovechkin is so far in the negative because be plays on the same line as mike green. One of the absolute WORST Defenders in the league.

    The guy is so overrated, especially as a defender. It kills Ovechkin, the goalie, and the team.

    • jaguar0413 - Mar 25, 2014 at 1:03 PM

      What are you talking about? Green plays defense. He is not on the ice at the same time as Ovechkin every shift. A majority of Ovi’s minus play has come with Connor Carrick specifically. Carrick was on the ice for 24 goals against. I hardly believe we’re having this conversation if Ovi is -9. Also, Backstrom hasn’t exactly been lighting it up on defense either. He’s a -20 himself and plays a much more important position defensively.

      Is it a surprise that since Ovi has changed lines and Carrick has been benched that he is an even player? What has Oates been doing all season to let it get to -31?

  4. dipthatchip - Mar 25, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    trainwreck of a team. shake it up

  5. blomfeld - Mar 25, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    The Caps host Los Angeles tonight before welcoming the Bruins to town Saturday …

    DIVINE PROVIDENCE: In theology, divine providence, or providence, is God’s intervention in the world. “Divine Providence” (usually capitalized) is also used as a title of God. A distinction is usually made between “general providence” which refers to God’s continuous upholding the existence and natural order of the universe, and “special providence” which refers to God’s extraordinary intervention in the life of people …

    SORRY OVI, YOU’VE ALREADY LOST THIS GAME ! :)

    GO KINGS GO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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