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Columnist: Caps’ problems are all on Ovi

Washington Capitals v Phoenix Coyotes

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 14: Head coach Bruce Boudreau and Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals watch from the bench during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena on February 14, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Capitals 3-2. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Washington Post columnist Mike Wise wrote a blazing piece today, laying the blame for the Capitals’ struggles squarely on Alex Ovechkin.

The column also served as a defense of coach Bruce Boudreau, who’s facing a barrage of criticism in the wake of his team’s three-game road trip that finished with three losses by a combined score of 14-3.

The truth is, only one person is emotionally missing from the Capitals’ locker room, and everyone inside that cocoon knows who it is. It’s the guy who looks like a shell of his former self, who hasn’t scored in four games and doesn’t even look interested in playing hockey right now. Until Alex Ovechkin finds himself, finds the electrifying player he once was and backpacks this team to the Stanley Cup finals, everyone’s employment with the organization is in jeopardy.

Nobody’s going to disagree that Ovechkin is the key to the Caps’ success. And if he’s just pouting because he’s not happy with Boudreau, then it doesn’t say much about Ovi’s leadership qualities.

That said, Boudreau shouldn’t get let off the hook. Coaches are responsible for motivating and getting the best out of their players, and Boudreau’s not getting that out of Ovechkin. Unless things turn around soon, firing the coach is going to fall under the category of “hey, it couldn’t hurt.”

Even now, what would be the downside of making a change? It turns out Boudreau wasn’t the problem? OK, so has anything really changed? Is Boudreau such a great coach that the Caps would sink even further without him?