Ovechkin, Caps Showing Olympic Rust in Three Recent Wins

Sam SnyderCorrespondent IMarch 8, 2010

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 03:  Jochen Hecht #55 and Tim Connolly #19 of the Buffalo Sabres collide with Mike Green #52 of the Washington Capitals along the boards at HSBC Arena on March 3, 2010 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

The Capitals have won three straight games since the two-week Olympic break, but haven't impressed many in those three wins. The rust that was expected has shown greatly, but as a testament to the Caps, has not impeded the Capitals' ability to win.

The first game was a 3-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres and America's Hero Ryan Miller. Miller was voted the MVP of the Olympic Tournament, essentially making him the best player in the world. The Caps managed to find chinks in Miller's wall, and score three goals.

In a season where superstars Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, and Nicklas Backstrom have ruled the stat sheets so far this season, it would be easy to assume that the three of those put up those scores. However, the three super players didn't even get an assist.

Now, superstars not scoring doesn't necessarily indicate rust, except in Ovechkin's and Semin's case, and I'll get into that later. The game itself was incredibly boring, to be blunt.

The first period was scoreless and pretty dull. Neither team was able to control the puck very well. Missed passes, bad shots, and mishandled pucks were the only action that was seen in the first period.

The second period was much of the same, except Jason Chimera's goal and an equalizing goal by Buffalo's Jochen Hecht. Still, rust was clearly visible. Any shot that didn't go wide of the goal was an easy save for Miller.

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When the Caps got possession of the puck they couldn't hold on for long in fast breaks, and any feed to the front of the net was missed or deflected. Mike Green, the stud Canadian defensman, was able to set up a goal. Boyd Gordon put the hay in the barn with an empty net goal.

The 5-4 win over Tampa Bay was more exciting, but much was left to be desired, especially in goal. Netminder Semyon Varlamov in no way performed poorly but showed clear rust due to the Olympics and injuries. Varlamov allowed four goals on 29 shots, saving 25.

Mike Knuble scored two goals, as well as two goals for new addition Scott Walker. Eric Fehr scored as well, in the first period. Both of Walker's goals were in the third period, and the latter of the goals was the go-ahead goal with roughly seven minutes remaining.

The 2-0 shutout against the New York Rangers was just as boring as the Buffalo game. The only highlights of that game was Jose Theodore's 30 saves and new Capital Eric Belanger's beautiful goal in the second period.

Just like the previous two games, the Capitals played sloppy, missing feeds, shooting bad shots, and being unable to control the puck on offense. Tomas Fleischmann had an ugly turnover right in front of the Cap's net that would have been a goal had it not been for Theodore's incredible save.

Earlier in the article I had mentioned Ovechkin. Since the Olympics, he has only tallied two assists and no goals. He has given up the goal scoring lead to arch-nemesis Sydney Crosby.

It's not like he hasn't had the opportunities to score. He has shot the puck a lot, but has been unable to find the back of the net. He had seven shots against the Rangers but no goals.

The Capitals haven't played pretty, but they have found ways to win, which is a testament to their skill and strength as a team. However, this is not the type of hockey Capitals fans have come to expect. 

That rust needs to be shaken off when they play elite teams like Chicago, San Jose, or Pittsburgh.

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