No more excuses for Ovechkin


If Alex Ovechkin was playing to get Bruce Boudreau fired, well, mission accomplished. But even if he wasn’t, the narrative going forward will be the same – Ovechkin is out of excuses.

Not happy with the coach? Fine, he’s gone. Now prove to everyone he was the problem, not you.

Capitals general manager George McPhee said firing Boudreau wasn’t about Ovechkin’s relationship with the coach – it was about the whole team not responding to the coach. But there’s only one superstar captain of the Capitals and that’s No. 8. If Ovechkin doesn’t start playing inspired hockey starting tomorrow versus the Blues, he’ll get crucified by the fans and media.

A man lost his job and you’re still loafing around the ice? No wonder the Capitals have never won the Stanley Cup. Their captain doesn’t care.

Fortunately for Ovechkin, Dale Hunter will do things differently than Boudreau. That’s why he was hired. Specifically what he’ll change remains to be seen, but he’d be foolish if he didn’t put Ovechkin in a position to succeed. Hunter coached some offensively-gifted London Knights teams. They were good defensively, too, but Patrick Kane didn’t score 145 points in 2006-07 with a leash around his neck.

Hunter won’t let Ovechkin do whatever he wants out there, but he has to know the Caps need their best player to start enjoying hockey again. There isn’t a player in the NHL that loves scoring goals more than Ovechkin. That’s what motivates him, and it’s up to the coach to exploit it.

After that, it’s up to Ovechkin.

Devan Dubnyk pushes shutout streak to two games

ST PAUL, MN - OCTOBER 15: Devan Dubnyk #40 of the Minnesota Wild defends the net against Winnipeg Jets during the game on October 15, 2016 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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Devan Dubnyk already showed signs of having a hot start to 2016-17, but Thursday made that point abundantly clear.

For the second straight game, Dubnyk generated a shutout, with the Minnesota Wild beating the Buffalo Sabres 4-0 in this instance.

It’s not as if Dubnyk is just leisurely turning aside the occasional chance, either; he made 38 saves to blank Buffalo and needed to stop 65 shots on goal considering the 27 he turned aside in a 5-0 win vs. Boston.

Ryan Suter said that Dubnyk bailed his teammates out during the second period, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo reports.

He’s now allowed just 10 goals in six games so far in 2016-17, with Taylor Hall‘s overtime-winner being the last shot to beat him. That came on Sunday:

More often than not, Dubnyk’s been making those saves so far in this young season.

Video: Another way Patrik Laine evokes Alex Ovechkin

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There are plenty of differences between Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Laine, including obvious things like one being from Russia and the other from Finland.

Still, there are moments when Laine inspires comparisons to his idol, even this early in his rookie season.

Thursday presented one of those moments. It wasn’t just that Laine fired a 3-0 goal home for the Winnipeg Jets against the Dallas Stars with such moxie; it was also that he showed some swagger with a celebration afterward.

This GIF captures the moment brilliantly, while you can also watch the goal in video form.

Sure, there will be some grumbles from the “act like you’ve been here before” crowd, but this is brilliant stuff for the rest of us.

Video: Want another booming hip check? Sean Couturier obliges

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 25:  Sean Couturier #14 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks on against the Buffalo Sabres at Wells Fargo Center on October 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Early this season, Dmitry Orlov delighted onlookers and angered Matt Duchene with a mind-blowing, throwback hip check. People really seemed to enjoy it.

While you’d struggle to top that hit, Philadelphia Flyers forward Sean Couturier must have sensed the void in checks that almost seem to flip opponents, doing so against Anthony Duclair during Thursday’s contest.

Rate this as you will:

Want another look at the Orlov one for comparison’s sake or to chuckle in disbelief? Why not:

Uh oh, Nikita Kucherov might be hurt

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As much as this Tampa Bay Lightning – Montreal Canadiens means right now, losing Nikita Kucherov would hang a dark cloud over any result for the Bolts.

There hasn’t been an update yet regarding whether Kucherov is actually injured – or if this is a minor vs. significant issue – but there are concerns after he fell into the boards during tonight’s game.

You can see the fall in video form above the headline and also in this GIF from Stephanie Hail: