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All eyes on Ovie

Posted By Mike Petraglia On October 2, 2009 @ 1:32 am In General | No Comments

Capitals center Brooks Laich is a lucky man. Not only did he score a pair of power-play goals on Thursday night to help spoil the season-opener for the Bruins in a 4-1 Capitals win at the Garden, he gets to play with one of the best players in the world in the best possible situation.

Laich is on the Washington power-play unit with Alex Ovechkin. And as everyone saw on Thursday night, while so many on the ice and in the stands paid attention to No. 8, Laich was left alone several times in front of a helpless Tim Thomas.

And give Laich credit for this — he admitted the biggest reason for his success was because all eyes were on Ovechkin, a superstar who had 56 goals and 54 assists last season.

“You’ve got four or five sets of eyes looking at Alex, so you’re able to slip in behind guys,” Laich said. “With Alex, you know the puck is going to come to the net, eventually somehow it’s going to come to the net. I know what my role is on the power play and it’s to go into the paint and go around the net and look for loose pucks, and we were able to score a couple like that tonight.”

Ovechkin gave Laich props for taking advantage of the situation and putting the puck behind Thomas twice.

“You know, our key is just a simple game,” Ovechkin said. “You can see how we score our two goals, get the puck to the net and Brooks makes a great rebound and when he first scored the goal it was a beautiful play by Nick [Backstrom].”

What was also interesting was to hear Ovechkin, a world-class player, pay tribute to his fellow power-play mates, including Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom, both of whom joined Laich and Ovechkin with three points on the night.

“Those guys, Semin and Nick, are just sick players, and I was wide open and I just waited for them to get me the pass and I scored a goal,” Ovechkin said.

“Well, we knew it was going to be a hard-fought game, especially in the first 10 minutes we’re going against the home team and the building was loud today. It was good for us, we played a simple game and used our chances, we deserved a win tonight. They played great, but we played better.” Ovechkin said.

And what Bruins fans learned Thursday was that when Washington’s best players play their best, they win. When the B’s best players don’t, they won’t.

“You have to be focused for 60 minutes in this game and we weren’t. We had a lot of good players who weren’t very good tonight,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said, before adding, “You never take any credit away from a good player who scores goals like he does, but at the same time you have to look at how he gets them and a lot of those were maybe what I would call gifts from us.”

Such as on a bad line change when the Bruins chipped the puck to the bench instead of clearing and Semin found Ovechkin wide open near the left boards for a shot on Thomas.

“Fluky things happen for him,” Thomas said of the shot that beat him in the second period and put Washington up 2-0. “That’s what happens with talent. I think he mis-released the first shot, and the fourth goal, which was his second, hit off [Milan] Lucic’s stick and went to a different spot if his stick wasn’t there. But that’s what happens with goal-scorers.”
“I don’t think it makes you forget [about other players],” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said of Ovechkin. “Obviously, you always look around where he is. He is playing all over the ice, he is not just on his side of the ice. Pretty much. Sometimes all the way on the blue line or coming into the zone. All those things, he’s just finding those open areas, and goal-scorers like him are good at it.”

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