ARLINGTON, Va. -- Alex Ovechkin
has seven games remaining to secure his third consecutive Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy and second Art Ross
Trophy in three years.
His coach is more worried about Ovechkin playing more like the best offensive player in the world than what becomes of the final statistics. The two-time defending League MVP netted 1 goal and 1 assist two days ago against Calgary, but Ovechkin has only 4 goals in his past 14 contests.
"I just want him to start playing the way he can play," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau
said. "When he starts playing that way, I think everything else will follow suit. Sometimes as a goal scorer or a point producer you wait for things to happen rather than going and making things happen. Alex plays best when he's going out and getting it and creating the stuff."
Ovechkin is one goal behind rival Sidney Crosby
for the NHL lead in goals and one point behind Vancouver's Henrik Sendin. He has a game in hand on Crosby, while Sedin will be in action later Tuesday night against Phoenix.
The Capitals have secured first place in the Eastern Conference and are closing in on the Presidents' Trophy. If players don't pay much attention to individual statistics earlier in the season, it might be a little easier for Ovechkin to do so in the last couple weeks with little left for his team to accomplish.
"Well if you're there you might as well try and win it," Mike Knuble
said. "I think our teammates want him to finish strong for our own reasons. He's worked hard to get where he is even though he's probably played 10 games less than everybody else. He's right there, and he's had a fantastic year."
Boudreau has been trying to rest most of his players for a game or two as the postseason nears, but Ovechkin will likely be exempt. This was expected to be a challenging year with a compacted schedule and the games at the Winter Olympics, but Ovechkin has had time to rest thanks to a pair of two-game suspensions and a shoulder injury that cost him six contests.
Ovechkin still leads the League with 338 shots on net despite the missed time. He has kept up his prolific pace with 72 shots on goal in his past 14 games, but he has also had 100 attempts either blocked or miss the cage.
The last time Ovechkin faced the Ottawa Senators
-- his foe Tuesday night at Verizon Center -- he had eight of his nine attempts blocked. The man typically responsible for marking Ovechkin, defenseman Anton Volchenkov
, will miss the game, but trade deadline addition Andy Sutton
has also had success putting himself in the flight path of Ovechkin's shots when he played for the New York Islanders
"He's waiting for the players to go get the puck and make the plays to him rather than saying, ‘I'm going to go get the puck. I'm going to go hit the guy, create the turnover and do the regular stuff,' " Boudreau said.
Ovechkin isn't alone with being in position to lead the NHL in goals and points at his position. Mike Green
led all defensemen in goals and points last season, and he currently has two more tallies and five more points than any other rearguard in the League.
"I personally don't really care. I'm worried about playing my game well in the playoffs," Green said. I try not to worry about personal stuff because it can create bad habits. If it happens, it happens. I'm more about the real season that is about to start here.
"For him, he gets trophies, but for me it doesn't mean as much."