The day after accusing Alex Ovechkin of quitting on a play in a 5-0 loss to the Dallas Stars, Capitals head coach Adam Oates was once again forced to address his captain’s much-publicized defensive lapses.
“I didn’t talk to him yet about that particular play,” Oates said, per CSN Washington. “We will. The message is the same message I tell him all the time.
“It’s a shame because he actually pushed hard up the ice [into the offensive zone] and I’m sure when he turned around he saw we had three guys back and figured they’d get the job done and they didn’t.”
Speaking of which, one of those “three guys back” was Jay Beagle. The 28-year-old has been centering Ovechkin of late, despite the fact Beagle has just 14 assists in 186 career NHL games.
Why has the coach been playing a defensive-minded forward like Beagle with the NHL’s top goal-scorer?
“The results I was looking for was a balance in the lines and the pace of our game,” Oates explained. “[Mikhail Grabovski] was banged up and we were weak in the middle. You’re doing a little bit of patchwork and I thought Beags did a great job for us.”
“Great job” or not, Ovechkin will reportedly be reunited with center Nicklas Backstrom on Friday when the Caps play in New Jersey.
“Every player has his momentary lapses and [the Dallas game was] a reminder to him that you can’t,” said Oates. “You’re in the spotlight, you can’t.”