- Obama not worried about Ebola at upcoming African summit in D.C.
- Obama: ‘We tortured some folks’ after 9/11
- Obama administration asked whole D.C. Circuit to take on major Obamacare case
- Mark Levin: Topple GOP leadership or country will ‘unravel’
- Massachusetts to let police chief deny gun buys to those deemed unfit
- John Kerry condemns attack on Israeli soldiers, kidnapping
- U.S. starts to evacuate American Ebola patients from West Africa: Report
- Geraldo slammed as ‘dummy’ for backing Clinton’s bin Laden claim
- Israeli spokesman: No need to debate who broke the cease-fire
- 35 Palestinians killed; Israeli officer missing
Alex Ovechkin can relate to Phil Kessel’s scoring drought
Question of the Day
The indelible image of the first NHL All-Star fantasy draft in 2011 was Alex Ovechkin laughing at and taking a picture of Phil Kessel, alone on the floor as the last player to be picked. Kessel got a car out of the deal, but Ovechkin and his fellow All-Stars got plenty of amusement out of the situation.
More than two years later, neither Ovechkin nor Kessel is doing a whole lot of laughing. Through 10 games, the Washington Capitals captain has two goals and none at even strength, while the Toronto Maple Leafs forward has yet to score a goal.
“I know it’s frustrating for both those guys, I’m sure,” Caps coach Adam Oates said. “But are you getting chances? If you’re not getting chances then you got to look in the mirror and like, ‘What’s going on?’ Figure it out. If you’re getting opportunities then I think you’re doing a lot of good things.”
“I don’t know if he’s ever gone through a drought this long,” said Caps right wing Joey Crabb, a teammate of Kessel’s in Toronto the past two years. “But yeah he’s a good player and he’s still doing good things for their team, he’s still getting points.”
But six assists in nine games isn’t the kind of production Kessel wants to have. On a Maple Leafs team with almost a dozen forwards under the age of 30, the 25-year-old star is counted on to score goals.
“I think after a couple games, you think like, ‘OK, I’m gonna have a chance and I’m gonna score,’” Ovechkin said. “After nine games you feel like big pressure on your shoulder, especially in Toronto. The fans, the media all over him I think. I just wanna give him advice like don’t listen nobody. Just play your game.
“Everybody knows he can score; he’s a top player out there. Lots of players play against him very carefully and give him more pressure. He just have to handle it.”
Easier said than done at the center of the hockey universe. This isn’t the longest drought of Kessel’s career; that was a 14-game stretch in January and February 2011, just around the All-Star break and the infamous fantasy draft.
So Kessel has been here before, dealing with struggles in Toronto.
“There’s definitely pressure. I think there’s loads of pressure on any top-line guy that’s supposed to produce and then on top of that you play in Toronto,” Crabb said. “So he’s got a lot of pressure but I think he handles it well, he actually stays out of the media quite a bit and he’s got a pretty level head.”
But even level-headed players can get frustrated by scoring droughts. Washington center Nicklas Backstrom said the key is continuing to work hard.
“It’s a little bit in your head I think,” Backstrom said. “You feel the pressure and stuff, but hopefully it’s going to come starting with one goal or something like that.”
It seems like shots find both posts and the crossbar before the back of the net for some scorers when they’re in slumps. That happened Thursday when Kessel and the Maple Leafs faced the Caps at Air Canada Centre, but at least he was noticeable.
© Copyright 2014 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 Isaac Orr
New carbon-dioxide rules would put America in the dark
- House GOP resurrects border bill, predicts successful Friday vote
- U.N. condemns Israel, U.S. for not sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
- Border agents cleared of civil rights complaints from illegal immigrant children
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Porn-surfing feds blame boredom, lack of work for misbehavior
- Ben Carson takes major step toward presidential campaign
- Feds raid S.C. home to seize Land Rover in EPA emission-control crackdown
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Ted Nugent slams 'lying freaks' at liberal media: I'm 'doing God's work'
- Pentagon wants extra $19M to equip, train Ukrainian troops
Top 10 U.S. military helicopters
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors