BALLSTON, Va. - Washington Capitals associate goalie coach and former Caps goalie Olaf Kolzig paid a rare visit to Kettler Capitals Iceplex Wednesday. Kolzig's reason for being at practice was to work with the Caps' current goalies, particularly Michal Neuvirth, but he also shared his thoughts on Alex Ovechkin's recent offensive struggles when speaking with reporters.
Kolzig, who played with Ovechkin for three seasons (2005-06 to 2007-08), said that for Ovechkin to regain the scoring touch that made him one of the most dynamic superstars in NHL history, he needs to go back to his roots.
"For Alex it's a work ethic," Kolzig said. "He just has to get back to being the way he was in his younger days and maybe not get wrapped up too much with the rock star status that comes with being Alex Ovechkin."
"Alex was getting away from playing hard, no-nonsense, honesty type of hockey, exuberant hockey that he displayed the first three years that he was in the league," Kolzig continued. "I think that's what endeared him to everybody. Then all of a sudden, he was still the same Alex, he was celebrating a certain way and what endeared him to everybody now made him look like a villain. Part of it is he's probably feeling not as loved as he used to be."
After scoring 50-plus goals in four of his fist five seasons in the NHL, Ovechkin has 56 combined goals since the start of the 2010-11 season, including only 23 this season through 53 games.
Part of that, according to Kolzig, has to do with the absence of Nicklas Backstrom, who has not played since suffering a concussion January 3, as well as teams getting "a handle on him on maybe how to close the gap on him and not allow him those fantastic 1-on-1 goals that he's used to scoring."