- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
Dale Hunter keeps pulling the right strings for Capitals
Ovechkin came through despite marginal ice time
Consider Monday night’s Game 2 in a vacuum without consideration of salary, reputation or statistics, and Alex Ovechkin’s numbers made him look like a clutch third-liner and power-play specialist.
He played a career playoff-low 13:36, including 10:36 at even-strength — fourth-lowest on the Washington Capitals.
Used in such a limited role, Ovechkin looked like a $9 million role player, an offensively potent wing whose defensive liability kept coach Dale Hunter from leaning heavily on his captain and highest-paid player.
“It’s hard to argue when we’re winning hockey games,” forward Jason Chimera said. “A lot of guys, their ice time has gone down, but we’re winning hockey games. You can’t argue with that.”
Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin and Mike Green all saw limited action, but the Capitals managed to beat the New York Rangers 3-2 to even the series at a game apiece. And though Ovechkin scored the decisive goal, Hunter’s strategy of sitting him when nursing a lead or in a tie game is becoming difficult to dispute.
“Anybody who’s following our team, you see he’s coaching the situations,” alternate captain Mike Knuble said. “If we’re down a goal, he’s going to be our main guy. He’s going every other shift. If we’re up a goal, then Dale tends to lean on other guys.”
But Hunter’s not coaching based on salaries or expectations. Treating players the same as far as accountability and ice time worked with London in the Ontario Hockey League, and it’s serving the Caps well now.
“I think you, as a coach, you get more respect that way,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “Sometimes the guys that are working extremely hard and aren’t getting the minutes that they hope they’re getting, they would get frustrated. I think when you reward whoever’s going at that time or keeping it more even, collectively, everybody’s a little bit more happy.”
There’s a morale element that seems to be helping. Ex-forward Matt Bradley made some comments on radio last summer about former coach Bruce Boudreau not rewarding hard-working players with extra minutes in the playoffs,
That’s not happening with Hunter.
“We’re sticking to whatever we have to do. However much you play, however little you play I think that our goal is to win the game and everyone’s happy if we’re winning,” defenseman John Carlson said. “Whatever it is, he wants the best, and I think that he is a fair coach and guys thrive on that.”
Washington has won all four games in which Ovechkin has played 17:01 or less. But the danger is in the star left wing growing disgruntled.
“It’s the most important thing right now…. It’s the playoffs,” Ovechkin. “How I said before, you have to suck it up and play for the team.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- WHYNO: Tomas Vokoun gets unexpected Stanley Cup shot with Penguins
- Brandon Meriweather, Redskins' secondary ready for bounceback year
- Kirk Cousins embraces role as Redskins' offseason starter as RG3 rehabs from injury
- Capitals notes: Realignment won't prompt roster remake
- Despite Caps' first-round playoff exit, Adam Oates' first season as coach left a positive taste
Latest Blog Entries
- Redskins injury updates (5/23): WR Pierre Garcon, CB Josh Wilson each had labrum surgery
- Capitals 'love' Matt Hendricks, but how much?
- Wojtek Wolski signs in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League
- Tom Poti won't return to Capitals, plans to continue his NHL career
- Is Tom Wilson ready to be a regular for Capitals?
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- House pushes through two-year Ryan-Murray budget deal
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- Rand Paul: Budget deal 'shameful,' 'huge mistake'
- N. Korean news agency: Kim Jong Un's uncle executed
- U.S. debt jumps a record $328 billion tops $17 trillion for first time
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Chef Mary Moran discusses the food we eat, where it comes from and what it does for us.
An informed and often humorous take on the world of advertising, public relations and social media. 100% Pure. Not from concentrate.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow