It's been a rough first two playoff games for Alex Ovechkin. The NHL's best goalscorer has been held to two assists by the Rangers, and, not surprisingly, the Caps lost each of the games. Now they're heading to the Rangers' turf and Ovie is looking to grab any edge he can to get himself and his team going.
Ovechkin went to the Capitals' bench to watch the Rangers' morning skate. Watching the skate isn't that unusual for opposing players, although watching from the bench isn't the norm. The D.C. Sports Bog has a great shot of Ovechkin, deep in thought, as he watches the Rangers. Moments after that picture was taken, though, Ovechkin was hustled off the bench by a Caps official.
Why was Ovechkin on the bench? "I just [wanted Rangers coach John] Tortorella [to get ticked] off -- and he was," Ovechkin told Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post. He added that the Rangers were "afraid of me" when asked why he thought he had to leave the bench.
Turns out, it is actually against league rules to watch the skate from the bench, although Ovechkin may still have gotten what he wanted out of the incident. Tortorella gave a curt response to questions about Ovechkin's presence, although one suspects a curt response from Tortorella is synonymous with a response from Tortorella.
It's easy to make a big deal of this, because playoff hockey is all about subterfuge about player health and new wrinkles, but Ovechkin wasn't going to learn anything at the morning skate that was going to be of much help. He's struggling because the Rangers are blocking all of his shots. If he gets a few more through their bodies, he's likely to score some goals and help his team.
It may show that the Rangers' success has wormed its way into Ovechkin's head, though, and that he's trying to level the playing field. We'll see if what, if any, effect it had at 7 p.m. Monday night.
Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.