Bruce Boudreau, Alex Ovechkin

Boudreau just didn’t want to talk about Ovechkin last night


Bruce Boudreau was more than a bit bummed out about how his team played in losing to Winnipeg, but one guy he didn’t want to discuss was Alex Ovechkin. As Stephen Whyno of The Washington Times shares, Boudreau was just a bit cranky about being asked about his team’s best player.

“You know what, I don’t want to talk about Alex tonight. Everywhere we go, people ask me the same question about Alex,” the coach said. “I just don’t feel like talking about him tonight.”

Well pardon us, coach.

After all, asking questions about the team’s best player who hasn’t scored a point in three games and seems to be sulking through the early part of the season might seem like a really important thing to discuss. Yes, you have to talk about him every day, but that’s part of the job.

Getting Ovechkin right should be a priority for the Caps. While they started the season out hot and Ovechkin is the team’s top goal-scorer, he’s not the dominant offensive force and game changer that we got used to watching. He’s arguably one of the best in the game and when he’s off, people are going to ask questions.

Maybe Boudreau was just saving his strength for when the Caps hit Toronto and the deluge of Ovechkin questions he’ll be sure to get there, but being the guy in charge means having to do things you don’t like sometimes. You know, like back checking.

Boudreau: Ovechkin “wasn’t benched”

Boudreau Ovechkin

Bruce Boudreau can’t believe all the attention this whole Alex Ovechkin “benching” story is getting.

Besides, it wasn’t even a benching, said the Washington coach, referring to the end of Tuesday night’s game versus the Ducks when he left on Ovechkin on the bench late in the third period with the Caps trailing by one and the goalie pulled.

“It’s all about accountability, but it was way overblown,” Boudreau told reporters today. “[Ovechkin] wasn’t benched or anything; he just wasn’t chosen to go out the last minute. I’ve done it many different times with many different players. You have a hunch and you go with it. I just thought the other guys were going to score.”

Guess it all depends how you define “benching.” Boudreau obviously defines it as a punitive measure as opposed to simply leaving a player on the bench in favor of other players. Players, it should be noted, who got the tying goal.

So why did the story receive so much play in the media?

“There was no football, there was no basketball, there was nothing else going on,” Boudreau said. “So they made a big deal out of nothing.”

But was it really that ridiculous for the media to react the way it did when you consider what else Boudreau had to say?

“Like I’ve said in the past, 99.9 percent of the time Alex is the first guy I even think of,” he said. “If you look at all my notes, even for that game, when I’ve drawn up a play quite frankly, he’s the one that’s on it. But it’s a different story sometimes at the time that it’s happening, and I just felt that other line was playing so good offensively.”

So 99.9 percent of the time Ovechkin is the first player Boudreau thinks of when the Caps need a goal. And he’s wondering why all the fuss when Ovechkin doesn’t even crack the coach’s top six?

Sorry, not buying it. Boudreau probably did think other players gave his team the best chance to score, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t sending Ovechkin a message at the same time.

Ovechkin might pout, but Capitals are digging Boudreau’s new way

Bruce Boudreau, Alex Ovechkin

The Washington Capitals are 8-2-0 and are undefeated in their first six home games this season. In any sane hockey universe, that bottom line would silence critics, but head coach Bruce Boudreau’s “message sending” ways are generating the kind of controversy that should be directed at the sleepwalking Boston Bruins.

Here’s the thing, though: players like Karl Alzner told CSNWashington’s Chuck Gormley that they prefer this new era of no-nonsense accountability.

“He’s cracking down,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “I really like stuff like that. It sucks for the guy it happens to, but accountability makes you work that much harder and do the right things all the time.”

In the short term, Boudreau pissed off his superstar winger Alex Ovechkin with his decision to go with six different skaters in an empty net situation, leading armchair leap readers to decode the disgruntled Russian’s reactions. Few people are talking about the positive side of this move, which includes a rare moment in which the team’s golden boy hasn’t been coddled. (Matt Bradley would probably be proud if he wasn’t playing for another team.)

Publicly speaking, both are quite comfortable with the situation; Boudreau thinks it’s downright expected for his start to be angry about the benching while Ovechkin is at least saying all the right things.

The truth is that if this is a crisis, then the Capitals are in a great place. Boudreau’s gambits have been working out great so far, from Ovechkin’s “benching” to starting Michal Neuvirth in the season opener all the way down to smaller moves regarding Mike Knuble and Marcus Johansson.

For all the excessive criticism of the team’s playoff struggles, people are oddly hard on a coach who’s clearly planting the seeds for greater postseason success. Even Ovechkin might see that once the frustration subsides.