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Pens might be tonic to get Ovi going

by Shawn P. Roarke
PITTSBURGH - Alex Ovechkin has just two goals since March 10 and none since the calendar turned to April, the month in which hockey turns serious with the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

That isn't the way any player wants to enter the postseason. Ovechkin hopes the worse of his drought is coming to an end, just in the nick of time.

Ovechkin said lining up across from the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby - his fiercest individual rival in the League - Tuesday night at Mellon Arena (7:30 p.m. ET, Versus, TSN2) will be just the tonic necessary to get his game going in time for the second season. 

"For me, this kind of game is to just get into the playoffs in good shape and get back on track," Ovechkin said.

Ovechkin has been searching for his game since the Olympics. A disappointing showing for Ovechkin's Russian team apparently carried over as the NHL restarted its season. Ovechkin scored a pair of goals against Dallas on March 8, but has just 2 goals in his past 11 appearances.

This week, Washington coach Bruce Boudreau pulled him aside for a pep talk and imparted his viewpoint on Ovechkin's troubles. He also laid out a road map for Ovechkin's rebound.

"He just has to play the way he has the past four years and that's being physical, being competitive," Boudreau said. "Sometimes when you want to score, you are waiting for other people to get you the puck, rather than doing what he does best - which is going out, competing, getting the puck himself and creating the opportunities and having everybody come after him.

"I just want him to get back to what he was doing. Ever since the last two-game suspension, he's taken it very hard because he is not a dirty hockey player. But, he's been reluctant to finish checks for fear of what (others) are thinking."

It's one thing to hear those words delivered by a coach, who spends his days trying to wring the best performance out of players. It's another to hear the same message from the players with which you share a dressing room, the teammates with which you go into battle each game.

And, it appears it is the chorus of the teammates that has Ovechkin feeling his oats again.

"It's good when you have a good group of guys that say 'hey, just play your way and something will happen and you will start to feel trust and play again the same way,'" Ovechkin said.

Tuesday, the hockey world will find out if Ovechkin has taken those words of encouragement to heart.
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