NEW YORK | That Alex Ovechkin needs to be better than Game 1 for the Washington Capitals to beat the New York Rangers goes without saying. But it’s a very specific thing the captain pointed to that he needs to be better at when blanketed by defensemen Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh.
“It’s matchup. I just have to find a way, first of all, to have the puck, and to find the lane to shoot it,” Ovechkin said.
Ovechkin attempted just five shots Saturday afternoon and got just one on net. Some of what might help is dishing the puck to linemates Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer and leaning on them when entering the offensive zone.
“For me, I just have to maybe have more patience in neutral zone. Don’t come closer to blue line because if I’m gonna have the puck on the blue line and I don’t have the speed, I’m not that kind of danger guy,’ Ovechkin said. “I just have to wait a little bit, maybe, if Brooksie or Brouwer or somebody else gonna have the puck, maybe don’t take full speed right away.”
Ovechkin pointed out that it’s on him to find space and find a way to score.
Ovechkin admitted that in the offensive zone “it’s very hard to find me because I have Girardi on me.”
“Sometimes you have to be patient,” he said. “Learn from series against Boston when probably you can have only one chance in two games to have that kind of opportunity. It was kind of good experience for me. I think, and the guys know. They’re going to give me the puck.”
What Ovechkin does with the puck can be a subject of scorn, too. His trying to make a one-on-two play in Game 1, leading to a tripping penalty when he lost the puck, was the prime example.
“Brooksie gave me a nice pass before I take a penalty. I just make a bad decision,” Ovechkin said. “I just have to put it in my backside. It would be breakaway. Sometimes I just make that kind of decisions. After that you have to just look at it and think, Jesus why I do that?’ ”
As for what he wanted to see Ovechkin do more of, coach Dale Hunter was far from critical.
“Just keep playing the way he is. He had some good body checks,” the Caps’ coach said. “They take their toll when you keep hitting. And they’ll keep hitting our D. That’s the game of hockey.”