Tampa Bay Lightning coach Rick Tocchet has no problem with how Alex Ovechkin plays
The debate has raged ever since Capitals star Alex Ovechkin's knee-to-knee hit with Carolina's Tim Gleason. Is Ovechkin a dirty player? Is he reckless, as Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said?
Tampa Bay Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said he has no problem with how Ovechkin plays.
"He can play on the edge and I don't mind that," Tocchet said. "For me, it would be great to have him on your team, a player of that stature to play like that. I think it keeps people off balance. ... I don't think Ovechkin is the type of guy who talks to the other team's best players and says, 'How ya doing' and all that other stuff. He means business, and I love that."
As for if Ovechkin is a dirty player, Tocchet didn't exactly answer, but said, "You play on the edge, every now and then something like that is going to happen. The only difference is if he plays dirty then he has to answer the bell. That's the only thing."
Ovechkin, done with his two-game suspension for the hit on Gleason, will play tonight against the Lightning. Think he's looking forward to it?
"The fact that he's out there 10 minutes early in the morning skate doesn't happen to often for him," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He loves to play."
Other stuff from the morning skate: As expected, Mike Smith, coming off a 30-save shutout of the Islanders, gets the start. ... What's the key to beating the Capitals, backchecking and playing a north-south game, Tocchet said. "To me, it has to be a rivalry game. You've got to increase your intensity. ... Especially early, if you don't have anything, just keep the puck and move forward. If we play a flat sideways game early int he game, it gives them momentum. We have to play a very disciplined north-south type game." ... Steven Stamkos says he believes he is playing well, and it is just a matter of time before the points start coming again (he has one assist his past four games), but Tocchet said Stamkos is passing too much. "In the beginning of the year he had the shooters mentality," Tocchet said. "The last couple of weeks he's been passing off shots. He's a shooter. He's got to shoot the puck." Even during today's morning skate, on two-on-one drills, Tocchet pulled Stamkos aside and told him to shoot more. "He has to have that gunslinger mentality because he has such a good shot." ... Another player who passes too much is left wing Alex Tanguay, who has just 26 shots in 28 games. "He's a tough guy to break of that habit," Tocchet said. "He has to shoot the puck. I don't know how many shots he has but it's not many. When you're playing a lot of minutes, you've got to get some shots. He's got a good shot. He can shoot it." ... Left wing Todd Fedoruk is scratched for the ninth straight game. "I'm pissed off. Yeah, I'm bitter," he said not about anyone but the situation. "But I won't bring that around my teammates. I won't bring that into the organization. It's a case of me not bringing what they wanted. Now I'm just waiting for an opportunity to get back in there." ... Defenseman Victor Hedman said the "soccer style" celebration was planned, especially the fist-pump, which was a signal to his friends back home in Sweden. ... Vinny Lecavalier, who made the pass to Hedman that led to the goal, lauded his teammate. "He's got the smarts. He's got the brain to know when to do that," Lecavalier said of jumping into the play. He makes a lot of good decisions, and that makes him who he is." ... Center Blair Jones didn't get much of a look (two games and about 12 minutes of ice time each) before being sent back down to AHL Norfolk, but Tocchet said he will be back. "I like him. I think he's a good player for us. I don't know if it's next week or next month, but he's a player I'd like to have."