At the midway point of the Capitals’ season, Alex Ovechkin ranks 37th in the NHL in goals with nine, 79th in assists with 11 and 48th in points with 20.
He also ranks second in the league in shots with 101, second in missed shots with 47 and tied for 42nd in hits with 50.
But since recording a hat trick against the Devils on Feb. 23, Ovechkin has one goal and five assists in seven games and has become a lightning rod for criticism, especially after taking two penalties that led to two goals by the Rangers in a 4-1 loss Sunday.
Asked on Tuesday to assess his captain’s recent play, Caps coach Adam Oates said, “Pretty good, but he has moments, like all of us.
“We had a little talk this morning. He’s got so much pressure on him, the world sees it, but they don’t see necessarily the 10 hits, they don’t see necessarily the 14 shots that he takes. They focus on the mistakes, and that goes with the territory.”
Asked if he takes offense to the national criticism that has been heaped on his captain, Oates said, “A little bit. I don’t like it when ex-players talk about players. I think your job is to add color.”
Oates said he wants Ovechkin to know that it’s the opinion of his coaches that should matter most to him.
“My job is with Alex, and really he should focus on the way I feel about him,” Oates said. “But it is part of the game, when you’re one of the focal points of the league. That’s a fact.”
Oates said he thinks it’s worth reminding Ovechkin to put aside what is being said about him and simply concentrate on playing.
“That’s why we constantly try and talk about playing better, try and minimize those mistakes, because everybody tries to take a big man down.”