In Washington’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Alex Ovechkin played just over 14 minutes. For the best scorer on the team and also the planet, that’s not a lot.
Ovechkin took 6 shot attempts, 4 on net, but he was largely ineffective in the road loss. During his 18 shifts, the Caps were out-attempted 15 to 10, a lowly 40-percent possession score. Only two players fared worse than Ovechkin: his linemates, Andre Burakovsky and Jay Beagle.
But one bad night isn’t an anomaly. Neither, apparently, is the disappointing combination of Ovechkin and Jay Beagle, a diligent but earthbound grinder. But all three– Ovechkin playing poorly while on a bad line and getting little ice time– that is suspicious.
As Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post (subscribe!) pointed out, this is a low-water mark for Ovechkin.
Ovechkin's ice time tonight: 14:12. That's fewest mins he's played under Trotz, per @hockey_ref. Lowest TOI for full game since 2005.
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) November 16, 2016
Ovi dipped nearly as low in 2014, a road win in Carolina, but Tuesday is a stark departure for a player accustomed to 20 minutes or more.
Is there something else going on? Can Ovi’s ice time or linemates explain, even partially, his lacking performance against middling players on a genuinely bad team?
Ovechkin (far to the right due to his low ice time) was outplayed by all but four Blue Jackets, including their top-nine forwards by ice time.
Without naming names, Trotz was unenthusiastic about the effort. “Some guys have to be committed to trying to score,” Trotz told the press after the game. “Right now, some guys are not committed enough to score, so they’re going to be on the outside.”
Trotz might be speaking about Ovechkin, though he might be speaking of Evgeny Kuznetsov, who has just three goals since March of last season.
Either way, something is up with the Caps offense. To figure out precisely what is wrong, coherent lines against Pittsburgh on Wednesday might help.
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