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Capitals owner Ted Leonsis: Alex Ovechkin 'needs to play better'

Alex Ovechkin's lack of scoring has mirrored the Capitals' slow start. (Rob Carr/Getty Images) Alex Ovechkin's lack of scoring has mirrored the Capitals' slow start. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals' ugly 1-4-1 start has been unsettling to owner Ted Leonsis who offered at least one idea for fixing his team's lack of scoring: Captain Alex Ovechkin "needs to play better."

Leonsis told WTOP Radio on Wednesday that Ovechkin's one goal, one assist and a minus-2 in six games isn't good enough. The Caps have tried multiple line combinations in hopes of helping Ovechkin and their forwards generate more goals. Ovechkin has been teamed with Nicklas Backstrom on the Caps' top line, and has also worked shifts with Jay Beagle and Joey Crabb.

“We're concerned too,” he told WTOP Radio on Wednesday. “And I'm not sure scoring is going to be an issue, but it has been to date. Alex is off to a slow start, and I’m surprised because he did go play in the KHL. But he’s having to get integrated into this new system. We put him on the right side, and now he’s back on the left side.

“He needs to play better. I don't have the answers, obviously; I’m not running the hockey operations. But if I did, if I knew what to do, I would go see Adam [Oates] and George [McPhee]."

Leonsis said Ovechkin, who had 40 points in 31 games for Dynamo of the KHL during the NHL lockout, has been concerned about his transition to NHL ice since his return.

“They have bigger ice. And when I saw Alex for those six days [of training camp], I mostly talked to him about his engagement, but I asked him what his biggest concern was and he said, ‘The KHL is different; the big ice to the smaller ice, I’m going to have to get adapted to, because you don’t have room to operate,’” said Leonsis.

Leonsis thinks Ovechkin has been slow to overcome extra pressure from opposing checking lines, and still needs to keep moving on the ice if he's going to break out.

“You know, he gets double-teamed all the time. He has to keep moving. That’s the one thing I’ve noticed when he doesn’t have a good game – he seems to be more stationary,” said Leonsis.

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