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.