Alex Ovechkin was given a chance on Friday to explain his role on a goal scored by the Dallas Stars on Tuesday in which Stars forward Ray Whitney blew past him in the neutral zone to set up a goal by Dustin Jeffrey.
The next day, Capitals coach Adam Oates said Ovechkin “quit on the play” and said he would address it with his 28-year-old captain.
Ovechkin said Friday that he had not discussed the play with Oates, but made it clear he was not the only one to blame.
“Be honest with you I didn’t see [Whitney] and I kind of lost position,” Ovechkin said. “It is what it is. We make lots of mistakes, not one mistake. You can’t blame one mistake on our game.”
Asked if it bothered him that Oates said he quit on the play, Ovechkin replied, “It is what it is. He’s the head coach. I get the blame for it. In that moment I think everybody quit on the play.”
For the record, Mikhail Grabovski, Jay Beagle, Mike Green, Dmitry Orlov and Braden Holtby were also on the ice for Jeffrey’s goal.
Capitals left wing Jason Chimera said every player in the NHL has gotten caught flat-footed on goals against.
“I’ve gotten caught flat-footed many times,” he said. “If you ask any player in the NHL it’s happened to everybody. Ovi has done a lot of good for us. He’s got 48 goals. He does way more for us than just that play.”
Right or wrong, Chimera said that because of his superstar status Ovechkin is held to a different standard than other players.
“Any time you’re on that world stage and you’re that caliber of player, everything is magnified,” he said. “If you score goals you get accolades and if you don’t you get blame.
“The rest of us go by the wayside. If we get scored against we don’t get the blame. The goalies and superstars usually get the blame and 95 percent of the time it’s not justified. We stand behind him.”
It is entirely possible that if the Capitals were not in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in seven years, Ovechkin is not answering questions about his work ethic. The Caps find themselves four points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final playoff spot in the East with six games to play.
“It sucks to lose,” he said. “It sucks when you don’t do the right thing when you know how to play. We talk about it, we understand it, and we try to fix it. We have to be together and not put blame on one guy.
“As a group we just have to stick together. We can’t blame one guy. We can’t put blame on goalie, or on [Nicklas Backstrom] or on [Joel Ward] or somebody else.
“If somebody make mistake we have to cover it. That’s why we have five guys out there. That’s why we’re a team.”