TAMPA, Fla. | Alex Ovechkin serving bench penalties for the Capitals is almost automatic. He’s a dangerous weapon stepping out of the box after those two minutes.
But Tuesday night, the Caps were whistled for too many men on the ice while already on the power play – a rare occurrence to say the least. Ovechkin went to the box as usual, bringing up an interesting question: Was that a mistake by coach Bruce Boudreau?
According to Versus analysts Mike Keenan and Keith Jones it certainly was. The Caps and Lightning skated four-on-four for 1:25 with Ovechkin in the box.
“I can’t believe that he did his. Ovechkin can be out on a four-on-four; he’s your best offensive player,” Keenan said. “He’s the best during the season four-on-four and you put him in the penalty box, and even to the event that Tampa takes a penalty you have your best player in the penalty box you could be on the power play four-on-three and why you put Ovechkin in the penalty box to serve a minor at this point in the game is just… I can’t comprehend why he would do that.”
Keenan continued: “I don’t understand why he puts his captain, his best player in the penalty box. He could be four-on four-and there could be a possibly of another penalty and play four-on-three power play. It doesn’t make sense.”
Keenan has reached the Stanley Cup Finals with three different teams (Flyers, Blackhawks and Rangers) and won it all with New York in 1994.
Jones, who played parts of 10 NHL seasons, continued Keenan’s theme.
“It’s a completely brain cramp by Bruce Boudreau,” Jones said. “The opportunity to have Ovechkin on the ice for a minute, 25 seconds of four-on-four and you put him in the penalty box so that the slight opportunity that he jumps out of the penalty box and gets a breakaway is just amazing that he did that. Guy Boucher is outcoaching Bruce Boudreau so badly right now it’s sick.”
Boudreau and the Caps must have heard that criticism as they jumped all over the Lightning in the second period to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead by intermission.