NEW YORK -- On Sunday, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin implored his linemates to get him the puck with speed so that he could create more scoring chances against the New York Rangers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
If I want to have scoring opportunities they have to give me the puck at full speed in the neutral zone, Ovechkin said, because in the offensive zone its harder because they have Dan Girardi and another guy Ryan McDonagh on me.
On Monday Ovechkins two linemates implored Ovechkin to generate his own speed and exercise more patience.
Troy Brouwer and Brooks Laich will team up with Ovechkin on the Capitals top line tonight at Madison Square Garden, where the Capitals are hoping to even their best-of-seven series after falling 3-1 in Game 1. Both said theyd like to see Ovechkin tweak his game.
Hes got to come back to the defensive zone to get more speed, Brouwer said. He cant be so impatient to get into the offensive zone. Hes got to make room for himself out there. We can only do so much. He cant bottle himself up and wait for that long stretch pass with no speed. Hes got to come back and come with us as a unit.
Brouwer said Ovechkins bulrushes down the left wing have become too predictable and too easy to defend. In Game 1, Ovechkin had four of his five attempts either blocked or go wide of the net. Brouwer said its because defensemen stand him up at the blue line and force him to shoot from bad angles.
Hes gotta learn, Brouwer said. You see all the time he comes down the left side and those D-men are standing right up on him and he doesnt have much of a play. Hes got to learn hes got to come back and give himself a little more space, a little more speed and hell have more scoring opportunities.
Laich said creating speed through the neutral zone is all well and good, but Ovechkin also needs to be patient enough to play a dump-and-chase game that allows the line to generate a cycle and wear down the Rangers defensemen.
Ideally, you want to get flying through the neutral zone, but it doesnt always happen like that, Laich said. Especially now when its pretty tight. Sometimes you have to stay patient and go up the wall with the puck and chip it in and forecheck and create your opportunities. Its not going to be all night where were flying through the neutral zone.
Ovechkin took several line rushes from the right side on Monday but Brouwer said hed be surprised if Ovechkin didnt wind up back on the left side tonight.