The Washington Times - February 15, 2012, 01:00PM

Olie Kolzig knows Alex Ovechkin as a teammate and now from a coaching perspective. He’s not around the Washington Capitals every day, but the associate goaltending coach has seen Ovechkin grow and change plenty during his time in the NHL.

And Kolzig made some pointed comments Wednesday about what the star left wing needs to do.


“For Alex, it’s a work ethic,” Kolzig said. “He just has to get back to being the way he was in his younger days and maybe not get wrapped up too much in the rock star status that comes with being Alex Ovechkin.”

Ovechkin is struggling without Nicklas Backstrom, Kolzig admitted, but he also pointed to the Russian’s on-ice demeanor and what has changed.

“Alex was getting away from playing hard, no-nonsense, honesty type of hockey – exuberant hockey – that he displayed the first three years that he was in the league. I think that’s what endeared him to everybody,” Kolzig said. “Then all of a sudden, he was still the same Alex, he was celebrating a certain way. And what endeared him to everybody now made him look like a villain. Part of it is he’s probably feeling not as loved as he used to be.”

Kolzig also reiterated what seems to be the general consensus around the league: that opponents have figured Ovechkin out.

“Teams have kind of got a handle on him on maybe how to close the gap on him and not allow him those fantastic 1-on-1 goals that he’s used to scoring,” he said.