Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Ovechkin’s struggles just one part of Capitals’ frustration

Image (1) Ovechkinski-thumb-250x375-7855.jpg for post 1383

Elliotte Friedman of CBCSports and Hockey Night in Canada has a great article up today on the Washington Capitals. He looks ahead at what needs to change for the Washington Capitals as they take the throne from the San Jose Sharks as playoff disappointments, and it’s tough to argue with his suggestions.

He makes a great point that while some were instantly calling for a coaching change, it’s smart of GM George McPhee to state publicly that he stands behind Bruce Boudreau. That’s not to say changes aren’t coming, but firing the coach in the days after a painful playoff loss just reeks of desperation.

There’s no doubt that the Capitals were outcoached at times by the Canadiens, especially as it became obvious that the Capitals had trouble adjusting to the system the Habs were rolling with. But what about the other parts of the team that frustrated fans the most? So what did Elliotte have to say?

On Alex Ovechkin, he says that the superstar needs to take a page from the book of Sidney Crosby and adjust his approach to the game as the league catches up to him. He has some damning quotes by Canadiens players, as they say that Ovechkin became increasingly easy to defend:

“Generally, you know what’s coming,” Gorges said. “When he comes in on the off-wing, he’ll try to step to the middle and shoot through you. You can bait him into that.”

“If you do go to the middle, he will try to go to the outside,” Gill added.

Sidney Crosby took the next step by learning to score more himself. As some coaches observed the Ovechkin was crippling the Capitals power play by keeping the puck too much, perhaps #8 can take the next step himself by learning to be more of a playmaker than a finisher. He has some incredibly talented teammates at his disposal, and as Ovechkin became increasingly frustrated he became intent on trying to win himself.

Friedman goes on to say that Mike Green needs to drown out his detractors and just go back to playing the hockey that made him so good to start with. Forget about the Norris Trophy debates, just be yourself. He also covers how the Capitals are perhaps too much of a finesse team, a style that’s not exactly conducive to postseason success and attacks the notion that perhaps the approach that works for the Caps in the regular season won’t work in the playoffs.

After all, it’s tough to argue with R.J. Umberger after that first round disappointment.

Finally, Friedman takes on a very interesting aspect of this ‘mess’ that we’ve hinted at as it became apparent that the Capitals were starting to struggle: Alex Ovechkin didn’t look like he was having fun anymore.

I call it the Tony Romo syndrome. Someone who was known for his exuberant style and his love for the game allows criticism and doubts about his ability to carry his team in the playoffs affect his love of the game. Ovechkin was frustrated, far from his joyous self and according to Friedman there’s talk he’s let all the public criticisms get to him.

The Capitals are still an incredibly talented team and have a formula that could be successful if tweaked in the right places. More importantly, they need Alex Ovechkin to get back to being as good as we all know he can be.