Jack’s latest column for SB Nation D.C.
Expectations remain high for Alex Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals as the race to the NHL playoffs kicks into overdrive. One of the most feared men in hockey is, like his team, attempting to rediscover himself before this year’s regular season woes tear him apart.
The Caps have walked a fine line this season, flirting with disaster on numerous occasions. They seem to be doing just enough to keep their heads above the water, playing like the way they played in a 2-1 victory over Buffalo on Sunday. Unfortunately, such uninspired play isn’t a recipe for sustained success. The onus is on Ovechkin to put a stop to the lackadaisical brand of puck on display.
For whatever the reason, Ovechkin has lacked his usual burst for much of the season. The “it” factor, ever-present throughout his career, has been snuffed out about as often as his patented curl and drag. Maybe he is out of shape or injured. Perhaps he is saving himself for the playoffs. Who knows?
Regardless, the Capitals need Ovechkin to be the sparkplug on the ice. The Caps live or die on the production of their stars, especially their high profile captain. While Mike Knuble and Scott Hannan seem to have a handle on the team behind closed doors, it’s up to the Great Eight to raise the level of play across the board by setting the tone.