Alex Ovechkin had one of the strangest nights a star player can experience in the Washington Capitals’ 3-2 Game 2 win against the New York Rangers.
He started off the night with a laughable 3:33 of ice time through the first period and finished with just 13:36 overall, yet he made the most of his rare nibbles. Ovechkin fired seven shots on goal, with one of them besting Henrik Lundqvist for the game-winner. He also blocked a shot and threw two hits in about as a dominant contest as you can have in less than 14 minutes of ice time.
While Ovechkin’s GWG drew the headlines, the continued short leash from Dale Hunter might just have the biggest influence on the series as the venue shifts to DC.
For better or worse, Hunter and the Capitals seem content to depend more upon their reinforced defensive mindset and Braden Holtby in net rather than letting Ovechkin and their other stars roam free. Many probably believe that Washington’s victories speak for themselves while critics believe that Holtby’s strong play might make Hunter look wiser than he’s really been.
Hunter’s explanation was as milquetoast as one might expect from the far-from-verbose coach. Here’s his comment on the ice time situation, via Stephen Whyno.
“Four lines and six D were all going tonight,” Hunter said. “They were all going hard, so it’s easy to play everybody.”
(Note: some, like Jay Beagle – who played just under 20 minutes – played more than others, though.)
So what do you think? Is Hunter crazy or crazy like a fox when it comes to the way he’s handling Ovechkin? Share your thoughts in the comments.