Last night’s 1-0 Flyers win over the Capitals didn’t come without its share of drama. While Ilya Bryzgalov was busy earning accolades for the shutout, questions surrounded the absence of Alex Ovechkin during the second period.
For over seven minutes following the only goal of the game, Ovechkin sat planted at the end of the bench. Perhaps because he admittedly turned the puck over then later failed to block the shot that led to the goal.
“It’s tough loss for us, I think,” Ovechkin told reporters. “My mistake cost us two points and it cost us the game.”
Coach Dale Hunter, meanwhile, denied he benched his leading scorer.
“Guys, it’s not a benching. Maybe he missed a shift. Guys, I was matching lines,” Hunter explained. “I definitely was matching lines, it was one of those things that he wasn’t the right match up. I didn’t want him against [Jaromir] Jagr and Jagr’s line.”
Fair enough. But when a guy sits for over seven minutes, that sure seems like a benching.
And if Ovechkin was being taught a lesson in accountability, as CSNWashington.com’s Chuck Gormley asserts, it points to a bigger problem for the Caps — the fact its captain has to be taught accountability with the season on the line.
Evander Kane had one of those nights he’d like to forget about.
Not only did the Jets blow a third period lead and lose to the Bruins, Kane caught the ire of coach Claude Noel in the first period by not coming out flying from the start. Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun hears it from Noel about Kane’s play that saw him benched for nearly a ten minute stretch of the first period.
“I’m not going to wait for him to start, the game has started. I saw two or three shifts and I’d seen enough. It’s like, what do you want to do here? If you want to be a key player on our team, if that’s what you think you want to be, then get ready to play the game, like everybody else.”
Kane has 18 goals this season for the surprising Jets and he’s one of their key young forwards. Making matters worse for Kane is that Andrew Ladd scored on his first shift taking Kane’s spot on that line. Awkward.
Losing to the Bruins is nearly expected, but even being a young stud in Winnipeg doesn’t mean getting a free ride. Lesson learned for Kane.
There’s no doubt that Alexander Semin is one of the most divisive talents in the league. He’s capable of scoring 40 goals a season and producing a ton of offense, but what he’s doing this season in Washington is making everyone crazy. He leads the team in penalties with 14 but has just nine points this year and he also leads the team in questionable effort.
With those kinds of issues lingering and Bruce Boudreau’s insistence on accountability this season, is it time for Alex Semin to take a seat in the press box? CSNWashington.com’s Chuck Gormley discussed that with Boudreau only to get a coy reply from the coach.
“Infer what you want. If everybody’s healthy two guys have to sit. We have to figure out who it’s going to be.”
Not helping Semin’s cause was seeing him work on the fourth line in practice meaning he could wind up watching their game against Phoenix tomorrow night rather than playing it. Just like with everything else the Caps have been trying this year, other moves with Semin haven’t seen him respond to taking fewer penalties nor improve his scoring.
If there’s one message most players will listen to it’s getting your job taken away from you, even for a day and the Caps need Semin to get scoring and staying out of the box. Is now the time for that message? With things being as rough in Washington as they are now, now might be the best time for it.