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Ovechkin Returns With Vigor // Washington Post
By Tarik El-Bashir
TAMPA, March 24 -- Since he was benched briefly last Monday for operating outside of the Washington Capitals' system, left wing Alex Ovechkin has responded the way the coaching staff hoped he would.
In losses to the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, Ovechkin
recorded two goals and three assists. But more importantly, the Russian
rookie backchecked with renewed vigor and was more disciplined when carrying
Ovechkin's performance against the Lightning was electric. He fired a season-high 13 shots on net, recorded his first two-goal game since March 6, assisted on the Capitals' third goal and finished with a plus/minus rating of plus 2.
It was type of performance Hanlon expects from Ovechkin (46 goals and 43 assists) nightly. It also was what the coach felt he wasn't getting from him in the Capitals' 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, when Hanlon benched Ovechkin for four shifts at the start of the third period. Ovechkin returned to the ice later and scored a goal with 11 seconds remaining.
"That's why we coach," Coach Glen Hanlon said at St. Pete Times Forum on Friday. "It wasn't blown out of proportion because of the magnitude of the player. [But] if you do something like sit somebody for a whole game or call somebody out, then it deserves national attention. It didn't even bother him."
Ovechkin confirmed that he's put the incident behind him, joking, "When I sit on bench [against Montreal] I was just relaxing."
Little of consequence is on the line for the reeling Capitals as the season winds down. Ovechkin, on the other hand, has plenty at stake.
With 11 more points, he can become the third Capital to record 100 or more in a season (Dennis Maruk had 136 points in 1981-82 and Mike Gartner had 102 points). And with five more goals, he will tie Joe Nieuwendyk for third all time in rookie goal scoring (51); with seven more he'll equal Mike Bossy for second place (53).
Then there's the matter of the Calder Trophy. Through Thursday's games, Ovechkin led Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby by 13 points and 15 goals. No player has never failed to win the Calder after scoring 45 or more goals.
Ovechkin also is well on his way to achieving $2.85 million in performance-based incentives, the maximum allowed for rookies under collective bargaining agreement. He already has earned a combined $637,500 in bonuses for surpassing 20 goals, 35 assists and 60 points. He also is on pace to earn a $2 million bonus for finishing among the NHL's top 10 in goals. Ovechkin, whose base salary is $984,200, ranks second in the league in goals, three behind former Capital and current New York Rangers right wing Jaromir Jagr, through Thursday's games.
1 февраля. НХЛ. Овечкин признан лучшим атакующим игроком
января // "Советский Спорт"
30 января. Ovechkin's Sixth Sense // Washington
25 января. Penguins Notebook: Ovechkin may have trophy
edge on Crosby // Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
24 января. Овечкин – лучший игрок недели НХЛ! //
1 февраля. НХЛ. Овечкин признан лучшим атакующим игроком января // "Советский Спорт"
30 января. Ovechkin's Sixth Sense // Washington Post
25 января. Penguins Notebook: Ovechkin may have trophy edge on Crosby // Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
24 января. Овечкин – лучший игрок недели НХЛ! // "Советский Спорт"