Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby

Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin face off tonight going in different directions


Surprised that there’s not more heat for tonight’s Capitals-Penguins game in D.C.? We are too.

After all, Sidney Crosby gets to face off against the team that essentially knocked him out of action last season in the Winter Classic while Alex Ovechkin… Well, there’s Alex Ovechkin looking less-than awesome of late.

Crosby’s return to action has been everything it’s hoped to be. He’s looked fast, brilliant, and he’s scoring points in bunches. Meanwhile, Ovechkin’s struggles have been more than highlighted this season. Now with Bruce Boudreau out and Dale Hunter in, if ever there was a time for Ovechkin to announce his presence as a big time scorer once again, doing it against the Penguins would be a great time to do it.

The drama and hype that surrounds these two teams often makes fans pull their hair out, but tonight’s game couldn’t be more dramatic for a regular season game. Two megastars in two distinctly different places career-wise while their teams are dealing with drama of their own. The Pens have been rolling right along while the Caps have been on a roller coaster of emotion this season. Amazing how the teams mimic their stars’ production, isn’t it?

It’s the first of a handful of meetings between these two teams and these two stars, but if there was ever a time to have both stars blow up in big ways, this is it.

Boudreau calls Semin “misunderstood”


Former Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau spoke with Dan Rosen of today and touched on a myriad of topics — his relationship with Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals’ struggles and when he knew the team had stopped responding to him.

But his most interesting comments might’ve been about mercurial sniper Alex Semin, who Boudreau made a healthy scratch earlier this season.

Boudreau said Semin was “misunderstood” and shot down criticisms of Semin lacking passion/desire to win. He did say, however, that penalties became a major issue for the 27-year-old Russian.

“Unfortunately when he took penalties he felt so much remorse,” Boudreau said. “I mean, a couple of nights ago he took a penalty and said, ‘I couldn’t play anymore after that because I was so shaken up.’ He cares, but things right now aren’t bouncing for him.

“When you’re used to doing something like scoring and you’re not scoring, it wears on your mind, and I’m sure that’s where it was with Alex. But I talked to him more this year than ever before and he talked to me more than ever before. We communicated well and he wanted to do a lot of things right.”

Semin’s on pace for a career-low 18 goals and 37 points — a stunning falloff from a guy that, just two years ago, potted 40 goals and finished 13th in league scoring. Boudreau said he’d communicated with Semin this year more than any other and never felt Semin was uncoachable.

If anything, Boudreau worked harder than ever to snap Semin and the Capitals out of their slumps. Just one problem — not everybody thought they were slumping.

“This wasn’t a slump,” Caps GM George McPhee said Monday. “You can ride out slumps. This was simply a case of the players were no longer responding to Bruce. When you see that, as much as you don’t want to make a change, you have to make a change.”

More Boudreau: Here’s BB speaking with Jill Sorenson of CSN Washington about how the Caps stopped responding to him.

Boudreau: “I tried every trick… nothing was working.”

Washington Capitals v Winnipeg Jets

Bruce Boudreau’s firing on Monday may not have been a shock to many following the Capitals’ play of late, but for Boudreau he thinks it came at the right time.

Boudreau spoke with Tarik El-Bashir or The Washington Post about being fired and as you might expect, his take on things was sad but also honest. Boudreau said he told Caps GM George McPhee, “I tried every trick I knew in 18 years and nothing was working.”

When you run out of ideas for how to tweak and motivate a team like that, there’s not a whole lot you can do. As far as the idea that players were tuning him out, Boudreau said he didn’t believe it to be true but that the last couple days he was at the helm people started saying it to him. Boudreau admits he may have been naive.

As far as whether or not Alex Ovechkin was rebelling against him, Boudreau says he’ll never want to believe that to be the case and that the good of Ovechkin’s game far outweighed the bad. That might kill a few columnists’ hopes right there.

Reading Boudreau’s comments you feel for the guy because you get the sense that he really gave it all he had and that the team was just done with him. It’s sad but it happens with a lot of teams. The well runs dry and there’s no way to reignite their will to do what you want. Now the Caps hope that Dale Hunter can find the new buttons to push.

Milbury and Jones weigh in: “Did Boudreau have to go?” (Video)

St Louis Blues v Washington Capitals

NHL on NBC analysts Mike Milbury and Keith Jones took to the airwaves to weigh in on the question of the week in Washington: Did Bruce Boudreau need to be fired in Washington? Could the Capitals have turned it around and thrived under Boudreau or did the organization need to make a move to get the season back on the tracks?

Both hockey guys said he had to go… and they both say it’s because of Alexander Ovechkin.

Check it out and let us know in the comments if you agree with what they had to say:

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Milbury, Jones discuss how Alex Ovechkin will react to Dale Hunter

Dale Hunter, Alex Ovechkin
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It seems like the hockey world gets a chance to make a “final judgment” on Alex Ovechkin about two or three times per season. Ovechkin’s latest legacy-redefining moment could come now, as bellicose Bruce Boudreau makes way for former Washington Capitals great Dale Hunter. Mike Milbury and Keith Jones seem unanimous about Hunter’s ability to transition from the OHL to the greatest hockey league in the world, but what are the odds that Ovi will snap out of his relative funk?

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