Alex Ovechkin benched by Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau

Nov 02, 2011

Katie Carrera and Tarik El-Bashir, who cover the Washington Capitals for The Post, will answer your questions on Alex Ovechkin's benching in Tuesday night's overtime win over the Anaheim Ducks.

Join Katie and Tarik shortly after Wednesday's practice ends at Kettler Capitals IcePlex. They'll have the latest from the players and Coach Bruce Boudreau as well as insight and analysis on the decisions Boudreau made Tuesday night.

Read more:

On Hockey: Boudreau made the right call

Ovechkin benched in Caps' victory

Did Ovechkin disrespect Boudreau?

Hello everyone and thanks for joining us for today's Caps chat. As you may have heard, there have been some developments in Capsland stemming from last night's benching of star Alex Ovechkin. So without any further delay, let's get to your questions.

Brouwer skated off the ice favoring his right shoulder last night and didn't practice this morning. Any update on the injury? It would be a real shame if he's out. Big fan of what he's brought to the team through the first ten games.

Bruce Boudreau only said Brouwer is "day to day" and wasn't sure whether the winger would play Friday. I don't want to read between the lines too much but this probably doesn't bode well for Brouwer. The right shoulder, the one he was favoring last night after the push from Lydman, is the same shoulder that he had offseason surgery on this past summer.

Sooo...the big question: Was Ovechkin the first player out at today's practice, which you said would be the right thing for him to do? Hopefully the answer is yes. Either way, how did he look, and what seemed to be his (and the team's) overall mood? (MB - Caps Fan Stuck In Philly)

Ovechkin was one of the first four players out on the ice. He and three other teammates all went out around the same time this morning and the captain looked to be in good spirits. During Boudreau's 'chalk talks' throughout the practice, Ovechkin was in his usual spot on one knee directly in front of the coach.

Ovechkin was frank when answering questions after the workout as well and genuinely seemed to understand why he wasn't on the ice late against the Ducks.

Ovie was flat all night. BB's move worked. Why is this even being discussed? As he said, 99% of the time Alex is out there. This would be a big deal if BB habitually kept him off the ice at important moments but this is the first time. It worked, they won, move on.

The reason this is a newsworthy item is in relation to how much the Capitals, from players to Boudreau and GM George McPhee have talked about accountability. Boudreau has made it clear he will reward players who work hard and perform well earlier in scratching Marcus Johansson, Jeff Halpern and moves like shifting Mike Knuble to the fourth line.

Not playing Alex Ovechkin late in a close game that the left wing was not particularly strong in shows that every player, regardless of skill level or salary, will be treated equally. Several Capitals today, including Ovechkin,  said that is key in making sure the entire team is on one page and everyone is held to the same standard.

Wanted to share a quick update on Troy Brouwer since my previous response on him. According to a source, there's no structural damage to Brouwer's shoulder and he should play this weekend. His absence from practice was a precautionary move.

Is it even fair to call this a benching? When I think of benching in hockey that tends to be when a player is not sent on the ice for his normal line shifts. I look at this situation more as Boudreau going with the players who had played the best at that point in the game. While Ovechkin didn't have a particularly goodgame, it seems that this is all being completely overblown, especially considering that he was out there for OT.

While I understand the argument about whether it should be called benching, it hasn't been a usual occurance under Boudreau to not see Ovechkin on the ice in that type of situation. With just over a minute to play and the Capitals trying hard to force overtime, even Boudreau acknowledged that ordinarily Ovechkin would be out there. But he wasn't having the best game and the coach didn't hesitate to sit his highest-paid, biggest star on the bench instead.

This is why I hate the media. They (you) are making a big controversy out of NOTHING. Boudreau was right to bench Ovechkin. Ovechkin was RIGHT to be frustrated by it. I don't want a player on my team who doesn't want to be out there when the game is on the line. Give it a rest with the manufactured controversy.

Who is calling this a "controversy"? We are discussing the (significant) events of last night.


Alex played poorly and, for the FIRST time, Boudreau did something about it. That's not worth talking about? Please with your "I hate the media" rant.

Who is calling this a "controversy"? We are discussing the (significant) events of last night.


Alex played poorly and, for the FIRST time, Boudreau did something about it. That's not worth talking about? Please with your "I hate the media" rant.

Who is calling this a "controversy"? We are discussing the (significant) events of last night.


Alex played poorly and, for the FIRST time, Boudreau did something about it. That's not worth talking about? Please with your "I hate the media" rant.

Who is calling this a "controversy"? We are discussing the (significant) events of last night.


Alex played poorly and, for the FIRST time, Boudreau did something about it. That's not worth talking about? Please with your "I hate the media" rant.

Who is calling this a "controversy"? We are discussing the (significant) events of last night.


Alex played poorly and, for the FIRST time, Boudreau did something about it. That's not worth talking about? Please with your "I hate the media" rant.

With Erskine now able to play and Green to hopefully be back in a little bit, who do you think will be a healthy scratch in upcoming games?

Depending on when Mike Green returns -- he was only on the ice for about 10 minutes today -- I wouldn't be surprised to see Jeff Schultz sit out a game or two. The lanky defenseman hasn't had the best start to the season and if the rest of the group is healthy it's likely Schultz and John Erskine will be battling for ice time.

What's it going to take for Ovechkin not to try the same 2 offensive moves that he does over and over that don't work? I can't imagine that the coaching staff is telling him to keep trying his cut across the middle of the ice and shoot the puck into the D-man's shin pads over and over again.

I actually think that's what led directly to the benching. If I remember correctly, I believe Ovechkin made another one-on-one move (that didn't work) late in the third period and also chose not to pass the puck to an open teammate.


There were probably a few things Boudreau didn't like about Ovechkin's performance last night. But I have to imagine he saw that, too.

Boudreau has been known to go with his gut since he came to D.C. and it works out for him most of the time. Not that Ovechkin hasn't played well but he's only scored in three of the first ten games. Do you think his benching during the Caps extra man push against the Ducks will give him a spark?

We'll see on Friday whether this work. But I like what I saw/heard today. Ovechkin took full responsibility for what happened. Said he understood why it happened and that it will be good for the team in the long term. Boudreau also said all the right things.


Knuble also said the benching sent the right message to the room. They now know that Boudreau's justice will be applied evenly this season, as a pooposed to last season.


That's a positive first step.

What's the update on his injury and status for the weekend? Also, is it me or is Alexander Semin becoming nonexistent?

I beg to differ. Sort of. I thought Semin played hard for long stretches last night. But, in the end, he's paid $6.7 million to score goals, not play hard.


I am not worried about Semin. ...Yet.

Is it just me or does Mike Knuble look two steps behind this year? Is he going over the hill or just another slow start?

Time catches up with everyone. But given his history of warming up as the season progresses, I think it's too early pass judgement on Knuble. Personally, I don't think he looks slower. But then again, speed was never his strength, anyway.

It's hard watching Ovie these days. Most of his shots hit shinpads or the boards. His cut across and shoot move is the worst kept secret in the league. He has such a hard shot but is waiting far too long to shoot so most of his shots are blocked. I've also noticed that the rest of the team seems to have the mindset of "Opponents expect us to constantly get the puck to Alex, so we won't..." which leads to Alex hardly ever having the puck. He's often double-covered so they need to pick their moments when he's only being covered by 1 guy but the whole team seems apprehensive about dishing to him no matter how much coverage is on him.

Alex MUST start using his linemates. He's got great players around him. If he would start passing the puck rather than relying on his tired one-on-one moves, he's going to see the same results.


Watching him try the same move over and again is frustrating. What's more frustrating to me, however, is watching him pass up open teammates, partciularly on the rush.

Hello. Just read Katie's blog post about Ovechkin's post-practice comments. Just curious: Has Ovechkin (or his agent, or whoever) specifically requested that his quotes are run verbatim? Obviously, his self-taught English could use a little improvement -- and it seems like, in interviews with other NHL players for whom English is a second language, publications are given a little leeway regarding cleaning up quotes for clarity and conciseness. But Ovechkin's quotes are always word for word. Which I think is a good thing, in terms of keeping his voice.

Katie doesn't clean up his quotes and I don't, either. I think fans want to hear what Alex has to say, the way he says it. Filler words/phrases like, "It is what it is", or "Like I said before" or "I think" may get left out sometimes because it bogs down the quote. But we never clean up what Alex says. Frankly, I think he's creative in use of English, given that it's his second language and that he only speaks it for half the year. 

What effect do you think playing "Unleash the Fury!" in the 2nd period had on the team? It was the first time I heard it done, that I can remember, being done outside of the third. It really got the mood of the crowd back into it.

We laughed about it on press row. I didn't have a problem with it, though. The Caps needed a spark.

Why DOES BB shift the lines around so much? It seems that in a sport that is played so fast, it would be imperative that you are able to anticipate a team mates position and habits in order to either pass or screen. Especially for the defense. This would seem to indicate that lines/pairs play with each other consistently so that they develop an instinct for each other's play. Nicky and Ovie have it, because they have been playing together for 4 years. The others won't ever develop that instinct unless they are left together long enough. So, why the constant shuffling?

Boudreau has always said one of the reasons he shakes up the lines so much is because he likes all of his forwards being familiar with each other, if that makes sense. That helps when he has to change things up because of injury or in response to what the other coach is doing.

With King clearing waivers,will he remain a fixture in the press box or will he see the ice in Hershey?

Boudreau said a determination on King's status has not been made. I would be willing to bet he'll say here in Washington, just like last year. It's really too bad for him. But all 29 teams had a shot an him yesterday -- and they passed.

Tarik, Will you continue to cover the Caps once Georgetown basketball starts?

Yes, but a little less, obviously.

When does Semin get his message sent to him?

Can't remember if I've addressed this yet. But Boudreau revealed this afternoon that Semin HAS in fact seen the bench at times this season. So Semin has been benched -- it just wasn't as obvious as Ovechkin getting benched lasty night.

Did Boudreau have anything to say about Eakin's performance last night? I thought he was one of the few bright spots in the first, but he seemed to fade as the game went on (didn't necessarily look bad, but was less noticeable). Any idea whether his limited engagement will last a few games or is he one and done?

I have a blog post on Eakin that should be going up on Caps Insider. Keep an eye out for it (if it hasn't gone up already). It has quotes from Boudreau and Eakin.

Did BB mention anything about changing up the D Pairings last night? It didn't seem to work well, in my opinion. Why mess with such a good thing, like Carly and Alzner?

Talked to some of the defensemen about this, but John Erskine's return to the lineup and Green's absence gave the Capitals four left-handed defensemen. While Boudreau likes to pair a right-handed defenseman with a left-hander that was impossible for three groups, so Karl Alzner wound up switching and playing the right side. 

The abundance of lefties prompted the reorganization of the pairings at the beginning of the game and when the duo of Dennis Wideman and Roman Hamrlik struggled against the Ducks' speed, Boudreau shifted them again.

Perrault seems to be playing well game in and game out. His point total is very good for a guy who gets such limited minutes. What is your sense of his season so far? Is he still one bad shift away from sitting? At what point will the coach reward him with a bit of security?

Mathieu Perreault has embraced his role on the fourth line, which he brings a different look to entirely than say someone like Jay Beagle. He hasn't recorded a point in the last three games but the fourth line continues to give Boudreau reasons to play them, thus the ability to roll four lines.  While I don't think he's "one bad shift away from sitting" Perreault knows his longevity in the lineup depends on producing night in and night out, but it looks like that standard is being applied throughout the lineup and not just to the young centerman.

Thanks for joining us and bearing with us through some technical glitches, but Tarik and I must get back to working on stories for Capitals Insider and tomorrow's paper. Catch everyone next time.

In This Chat
Katie Carrera
Katie Carrera covers the Capitals for The Washington Post.
Tarik El-Bashir
Tarik El-Bashir covers the Georgetown University men's basketball team after covering the Washington Capitals and the NHL for five seasons.
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