Seat Could Get Hotter in District for Boudreau

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Things aren’t so peachy in Washington for Caps bench boss Bruce Boudreau. The Capitals currently sit eighth in the East with a 11-7-1 record. Expectations are always high for a team with one of the most profile players in the league in Alex Ovechkin. In the division, they are two points behind Florida but you couldn’t tell based on the way the team has been playing.

Team owner Ted Leonsis recently declined to comment when the media asked him about a vote of confidence regarding Boudreau. This doesn’t sound good. Especially on the heels of en embarrassing 7-1 loss to Toronto in which the Maple Leafs kept seven regulars out of the lineup and started their third string goalie. Last night when they defeated Phoenix, Boudreau healthy-scratched Alexander Semin for the first time in his career. There are a lot of things to blame, but the main source of the team struggles begins with the player with the C on his sweater:

The Washington Capitals will sink or swim with the production of Alex Ovechkin.

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For Boudreau to retake control of the locker room, he has to do it through the player the rest of the team listens to. A story in the Washington Post suggested Ovechkin and Boudreau aren’t on the same page. Boudreau wants Ovi to play on the wing on the power play but Ovi feels more comfortable running the man-advantage from the point. Boudreau and his staff have begged Ovechkin to be more responsible in the defensive end, yet he still routinely floats in Washington’s zone and leaves it prematurely. Through the season’s first 18 games, he has a team-worst plus-minus rating of minus-6.

For someone that loves to shoot the pick, Ovechkin hasn’t done that this season. He’s led the league in shots on goal each of his first six seasons, but has 67 in 18 games this season. In the Toronto loss Saturday he didn’t record his first shot on goal until 12 minutes remained in the second period- when they trailed 4-1. The coaches want him to get more of his teammates involved versus taking a high risk shot, but to decrease your shot production by that much is cause for concern.

Earlier this month when Ovechkin was benched when the team put an extra attacker on the ice, he seems to be in his own world. A player who sees 20-plus minutes of ice time every game has been averaging close to 18 minutes this month. That isn’t something you want to see out of your best player and deadliest sniper on the ice.

Could the Semin-scratching Monday affect the fellow Russian superstar? This team does seem to follow the way of Ovechkin: Ovi plays well, the team does well. If he can’t find the back of the net, neither can the rest of the team. In the end, Boudreau and his captain need to have a man-to-man meeting. If they air out all their issues and squash it there, the team could head in the right direction. If they fail to reach at least the conference final, some heads (both on the ice and on the bench) could roll.

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