Ovechkin still big threat despite less ice time

The Sports Xchange

Ever since he arrived in the NHL as a bold 19-year-old, Alex Ovechkin has led all Capitals forwards in scoring and ice time. And despite a slow start, there is every reason to believe that will be the case again this season.

But if the first six games are any indication, Ovechkin will be asked to do more with less this season. Less ice time, that is.

Ovechkin scored two goals to lift the 6-0-0 Capitals to a 5-2 win over the Flyers Thursday night, setting the stage for Saturday night's tussle between the Caps and Red Wings in Washington.

Two weeks into the season, Ovechkin leads all Caps forwards with 19:10 of average ice time, but that's more than two minutes below his career average and the first time in his career he is below the 21-minute mark.

By comparison, Ovechkin logged 21:21 of ice time last season. In 2009-10, he was at 21:47. In 2008-09, he was at 23:00. In 2007-08, he was at 23:06. In 2006-07, he was at 21:23. And in his rookie year, he was at 21:37.

Coach Bruce Boudreau said he is trying to roll four lines this season and Ovechkin's drop in minutes is more a reflection of the team's depth than of his captain's play.

"I think in the long run that will be beneficial to us," Boudreau said. "But there are going to be times I want (the top line) to stay out there longer."

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