April 30, 2012
Ovechkin, linemates at odds
By MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI AGENCY
NEW YORK - If Alex Ovechkin doesn't start hitting the back of the net, his Washington Capitals might soon be hitting golf balls.
With just two goals in eight post-season games thus far, Ovechkin is getting plenty of advice from linemates Troy Brouwer and Brooks Laich, who feel the Great Eight needs to take destiny in his own hands.
Shadowed by the New York Rangers for much of Game 1, Ovechkin was barely noticeable in the home side's 3-1 win over a Caps team that mustered just 18 shots on goal against Henrik Lundqvist Saturday afternoon.
Ovechkin claims his teammates must get him the puck quicker. On the other hand, Laich and Brouwer are calling for Ovechkin to produce more speed and play with more patience.
Heading into Game 2 of this best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal Monday at Madison Square Garden, it will be interesting to see if Ovechkin and his linemates can finally get on the same page.
"If I want to have (scoring) opportunities, they have to give me the puck at full speed in the neutral zone because in the (offensive) zone it's harder because they have (Dan) Girardi and another guy (Ryan McDonagh) on me," Ovechkin said.
If Ovechkin wants the puck like that, he should visit his own end more often, Brouwer countered.
"He's got to come back (to the defensive zone) to get more speed," Brouwer said after the Caps pre-game skate on Monday. "He can't be so impatient to get into the offensive zone. He's got to make room for himself out there. We can only do so much.
"He can't bottle himself up and wait for that long stretch pass with no speed. He's got to come back and come with us as a unit."
Brouwer added that Ovechkin has become too predictable.
"He's gotta learn," Brouwer said. "You see all the time he comes down the left side and those D-men are standing right up on him and he doesn't have much of a play. He's got to learn he's got to come back and give himself a little more space, a little more speed and he'll have more scoring opportunities."