"Not engaged mentally right now" - Alex Ovechkin's ex-Capitals coach breaks down his playoff woes

NHL: Washington Capitals at Philadelphia Flyers
Alex Ovechkin: Washington Capitals at Philadelphia Flyers

Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin has been uncharacteristically quiet in the first two games of the team's first-round playoff series against the New York Rangers.

The Capitals find themselves in a 0-2 hole after losing Game 1 by a score of 4-1 and Game 2 by a narrow 4-3 margin.

Ovechkin, who went pointless against the Rangers in two regular-season games despite averaging four shots per game, has been a non-factor in the series thus far. His lack of production has left many fans and experts puzzled

Former Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau offered insights on the star's struggles.

"Maybe he can’t do it at 38 anymore where he can’t crash, bang and do it with the energy that he used to do it," Boudreau said to The Athletic.
"But he’s standing still getting pucks, and when he’s standing still getting pucks, the Rangers are too quick. They come at you too fast. So he doesn’t have time to get out of the way."

Boudreau said Ovechkin's reactions are slower and his positioning has not allowed him to absorb contact and remain strong on the puck.

Boudreau also noted that Ovechkin appeared disengaged mentally:

“So, to me, he's not engaged mentally right now. He wants to be, but he's not because he's frustrated and things aren't going the way he wants them to go."

Alex Ovechkin scored 31 goals and provided 34 assists, resulting in 65 points in the regular season

Spencer Carbery's take on Alex Ovechkin's recent performance

Spencer Carbery shared his perspective on Alex Ovechkin's performance in the ongoing playoff series against the New York Rangers. Carbery attributed Ovechkin's difficulties to various factors, including matchups, line combinations and the player's role in the team's strategy.

He emphasized the need to create opportunities for Ovechkin to face Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin directly, particularly within the top of the circle, where the Russian superstar is most lethal:

“He can find that in one instance. We get back home and that thing is in a good spot on net. He’ll be good. He’s been through so many situations like this, I expect him to step up big-time in Game 3.”

Alex Ovechkin acknowledged the need to adapt his game, recognizing the increased pressure from the Rangers defense on the Capitals' top lines.

“I think (I just have to) settle down a little bit,” Ovechkin said Thursday. “You have to be more patient with the puck because I know we play against a good hockey team.

The series shifts to Washington for Game 3 on Friday.

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