Alex Ovechkin will report to the Bell Center on Saturday night after being unable to shoot on goal in two straight games for the first time in his illustrious career.
The Montreal Canadiens will do everything possible to extend this rare drought, but head coach Martin St-Louis admitted that he expected to see a hungry Ovechkin on the ice.
“I would be very surprised if he didn’t arrive with the idea in mind of taking a shot on goal. We’ll have to be ready for that,” St-Louis said.
Ovechkin will also try to score his first goal of the season, when the Washington Capitals (1-2-0) face the Canadian (1-1-1).
“He shot a lot and scored a lot, and you have to respect his presence on the ice,” Canadiens forward Sean Monahan said of Ovechkin. For him to be shut out in shots two games in a row for the first time in his career is pretty crazy! »
Goalkeeper Jake Allen will have the task of frustrating Ovechkin if he gets a shot on target. He was the victim of five of the Russian sniper’s 822 career goals, who also scored 16 of his goals in 26 games at the Bell Centre.
Ovechkin notably scored three goals against Allen and the Canadian in a 9-2 thaw in Washington on December 31.
“A lot of times you’re going to make the save because of your position and not your reaction,” Allen said. But he’s not the best scorer of all time for nothing. »
In fact, Ovechkin is still 72 goals short of joining Wayne Gretzky for first place in NHL history. But Allen and the Canadian have other fish to fry.
Even if Cole Caufield recalled that the season was only three games old and that no one was panicking at the Canadiens, the power play remains a black mark on the Montreal club’s record.
He took advantage of only one of his first 11 opportunities of the season on the power play. All this, after going 3 for 23 during the preparatory calendar and ranking 29e ranked on the Bettman circuit in this regard last season.
Difficulties in training
Defenseman Mike Matheson was visibly frustrated by his unit’s ineffectiveness during training drills Friday morning at the CN Sports Complex. He tried to calm things down in front of the microphones and cameras.
“I’m a hard-working guy and I want to be the best I can be. I’m competitive and it’s going to be like that sometimes,” said the 29-year-old Montrealer.
St-Louis also organized a long meeting with its players to talk about the power play after practice.
“When you get power plays and you don’t have success, it can get frustrating,” Monahan said. But it’s a good sign. It means that the guys take it to heart, that they are aware of their responsibilities. Today it wasn’t working and the guys were frustrated. It’s good to see that. »
It doesn’t matter how quickly we fix things. You have to be patient with the plan. I don’t want to skip any steps.
Allen echoed Monahan, noting that Matheson’s frustration demonstrated how much the players care about the team’s success. “Sometimes practice is going to go well, and sometimes it’s going to be more difficult,” said the veteran goalie. It shows that they care about the team’s success, that they want to get their hands dirty and train in order to improve. It’s a good sign to see that. »
St-Louis, however, recalled that it was necessary to be patient with his group and recalled that he did not want to take shortcuts in his teachings. “The process is more important than the destination,” he said.
Furthermore, defenseman Kaiden Guhle trained on the ice at the CN Sports Complex for about fifteen minutes before his teammates, three days after suffering an upper body injury in his team’s 5-2 loss to the Wild of Minnesota. His health continues to be evaluated daily, but he will not play against the Capitals.
For his part, center Christian Dvorak (knee) trained for the first time without a jersey, indicating that he had to avoid contact since returning to work this fall. He remains ineligible to return to play before the November 4 game against the Blues in St. Louis, since his name was placed on the long-term injured list to start the season.