Ovechkin on reduced ice time: “Sometimes you get angry you’re not out there”

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Depending how you spin it – and it’s being spun differently depending on the media outlet (see here compared to here) – Alex Ovechkin is either angry at receiving less ice time under coach Dale Hunter, or he’s bought into Hunter’s team-first philosophy.

The former suggests Ovechkin is selfish, the latter pretty much the opposite.

We’ll let you decide for yourself.

“My role is still to score goals,” Ovechkin said Tuesday, as per CSNWashington.com. “But in different situations, [Hunter] puts different guys out there. If we win, we win. If we lose, we lose. But I think everybody wants to support each other no matter what. Sometimes you get angry you didn’t play a lot. Sometimes you get angry you’re not out there. But if it’s good for the team, you have to eat it and stay on the same course.”

In Game 4 versus the Bruins, Ovechkin played less than two minutes in the third period while the Caps were protecting a one-goal lead.

In Game 5 at Boston, he spent a career playoff low 15:34 on the ice.

Veteran forward Mike Knuble has empathy for his captain.

“It’s an interesting challenge to change tendencies and to change habits,” Knuble said. “The offensive guys, they’ve been offensive their whole life. Since they could wipe their noses, they’ve been out there scoring goals. It’s kind of hard to get them all to think a little bit differently, because it’s what’s gotten you here.”

Meanwhile, defenseman Karl Alzner credits Hunter for laying out each player’s role so there’s no confusion.

“[Ovechkin] understands now exactly why he’s not out there at times,” Alzner said. “It’s not a shock to me or anybody. We all know who goes out when it’s a D-zone draw and who goes out when it’s an offensive zone draw.”

Of course, Ovechkin’s willingness to go along with Hunter’s plan could change if the Capitals lose tomorrow and don’t make it past the first round.

Funny how that works sometimes.