Caps lose again as must-win games turn into losses

March 12, 2014 | Drew Forrester

Another night of stellar offensive play from the Capitals, who were blanked in Pittsburgh on Tuesday evening, 2-0.

It’s not closing time yet for Washington and their playoff chances, but the bartender is “flicking the lights on and off” to let you know last call is just a few minutes away.

And then, maybe for the first time ever, the organization – under Ted Leonsis at least – has an off-season of real, true soul searching to do before putting together a plan for 2014-2015.

What to do with General Manager George McPhee, who has drawn plenty of disdain over the last few years from D.C.’s hockey faithful.

Is Adam Oates the coach they thought he would be and, if not, do you make a move in his department?

And, the big question:  What’s the future hold for Alexander Ovechkin?

More importantly, the real question:  Is it time for the Caps to consider going in a new direction that starts WITHOUT Ovechkin?

Anytime I bring up Ovechkin’s name and the word “trade” in the same sentence with people who follow hockey, they look at me like I have three heads.

I always follow up that look by asking:  “Tell me what he’s done…”

“He’s scored a ton of goals,” is always the first reply.

“OK,” I say.  “What else?”

Go ahead…what else?

Name the players in the Caps organization who have been here alongside Ovechkin that are better for having played with him.  I’ll be here waiting.

Go ahead…go through the list of players who have been in D.C. during the “Ovie years” that #8 made better as a hockey player.

I’m still waiting.

And I’m not, absolutely NOT, saying to just dump him for a bag of pucks and some Southwest Airlines tickets.

Not at all.

What I am saying, though, is the time has come to consider a new direction for the Caps.

Please note the word “consider” there.

I watch Ovechkin night in and night out and I marvel at how one dimensional he’s become.  He’s -27 this season, which means he’s been on the ice in even strength situations for TWENTY SEVEN more goals against the Caps than for the Caps.

How has the so-called “best offensive player in hockey” (cough, cough) found himself on the ice for 27 more goals against his team than goals scored FOR his team?

That’s incredibly telling.

I’m not looking to punish Ovechkin for one season of mediocre Caps hockey, either.  Lots of other players are worthy of blame, including Mike Green, who continues to play far beneath the level a player of his contract status should.

In baseball terms, what the Caps want from Ovechkin is their own version of Derek Jeter.  A winner.  A player who makes others around him better.  Someone who comes through when the games matter most.

Instead, the Caps have an Alex with their own Alex — Alex Rodriguez.

I’ll take Jeter.

I just wish the Caps had one of those kind of players in Ovechkin.

And, since they don’t, I’ll just ask again:  Is it time for the Capitals to move in a different direction in the off-season and proceed without The Great Eight?

It’s a question worth asking.


6 Comments For This Post

  1. David Says:

    I have wondered this myself. There are more times than not i have seen Ovechkin become a ghost when he was needed most. Then the next season comes around and you hear about how he is in shape and its going to be his best year yet and the same thing occurs. Sure he can score goals with anyone, he is probably the best in the league at it, but he is far from a Captain in the NHL. Without Backstrom setting him up he has half the goals he has this year. That is the key to Ovechkin’s success. I always said he was better with out the captains C on his chest. He is just not a leader. You never really see him get angry when the Caps lose or when they get knocked out of the playoffs in crushing fashion. If you look on Monday night Chimmera is throwing sticks and hitting things and just peeved they lost a game they could have won. Nothing from the leader of the franchise, who other than a stupid roughing penalty Monday night, did nothing in 2 games against the Pens but get shown up by other guys named Malkin and Crosby. If the Caps were to trade him i would hope they make sure to get 2 more centers, 4 defense men, and a solid goalie. All of those are glaring issues with the Caps as well.

  2. Mike from Half Moon Bay Says:

    It’s not the situation or the players around Ovechkin . It’s not his lack of skill; it’s his lack of HEART. The Tony Romo of the NHL simply can’t step up in big games. Your Jeter reference is perfect as the touchstone for clutch athletic performance. Want more proof? In the Olympics, playing for and in his country on the world’s largest stage, Ovechkin disappeared in games that mattered. Anyone really surprised?

  3. eric Says:

    Not to defend Ovie’s horrid defense but +- is useless. Ovie has had years where he was top 10 in the league in +-. Was he great defensively then? No he had linemates who could score. He’s not the problem it’s a GM who’s wasted his best years with horrible d men and one dimensional forwards who are unwilling to crash the net and score the dirt goals necessary to win in playoffs

  4. eric Says:

    read dave lozo’s column at Sums it up best “Ovechkin is reason Caps decline isn’t worse yet he’s unfairly blamed for their dysfunction” (DF: Who’s Dave Lozo, Ovechkin’s cousin? I’m still waiting for anyone, including that guy, to tell me in the Ovechkin era how many players around him have been better off for playing with him? I’m waiting. Still here. Waittttttttttttting…)

  5. BK Says:

    With NFL free agency hitting yesterday and action happening around the BALTIMORE Ravens with Monroe and Arthur Jones, you choose to write about the WASHINGTON Capitals? The ‘local leader in sports’……

    Washington is no different than Philadelphia in terms of comparison to Baltimore sports.

  6. Raz_la Says:

    He’s overrated, always has been and always will be………….and PLEASE do not use the word “Great” with him. One and only one hockey player in history should be associated with that word.

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