Say what you want about Alex Ovechkin having the least productive season of his career.
On Monday, he at least spoke like a true captain.
Faced with the prospect of playing the Southeast Division-leading Florida Panthers on Tuesday night without Nicklas Backstrom (concussion), Mike Green (sports hernia surgery) and Brooks Laich (knee injury), Ovechkin turned dead serious.
Right now, its on me, on Sasha, on JoJo, on Brouwer, on Chimmer, Ovechkin said, referring to teammates Alex Semin, Marcus Johansson, Troy Brouwer and Jason Chimera.
Were going to need to play like we didnt play yet this year. Its going to be tough, but I like when its tough. You have to show your character, and you have to show your leadership.
Through 49 games, Ovechkin leads the Capitals with 20 goals and remains second behind Backstrom with 39 points. He is on pace to match his career low of 32 goals and set a career low of 62 points.
But on Monday, he seemed both resilient and defiant in the Capitals ability to handle their most recent setback in a season with many of them. Since going 7-0-0 to start the season, the Caps have gone 20-21-4 and have seen coach Bruce Boudreau replaced by Dale Hunter.
We won seven in a row, and after that it seems like everything has not worked well for us, Ovechkin said. We have to fight through it. This situation you can do nothing. Were not going to cry. Were not going to be asking for help from somebody. Its all about us. We have to be together and play like a team.
That starts Tuesday night against the team that leads them by one point.
Tomorrow is a huge game, Ovechkin said. We still have players who can win the game. We have to be ready to play much harder for those guys and without those guys.