A struggling Alexander Ovechkin has some advice for Maple Leafs winger Phil Kessel, who despite several chances couldn’t beat Capitals goalie Michael Neuvirth in the Leafs 3-2 win in Washington on Tuesday night.
“I just wanna give him advice like don’t listen to nobody. Just play your game,” said Ovechkin, who has only scored twice this season and at times is invisible on the ice.
Kessel, leading the NHL in shots on goal, will try to break his scoreless drought in Winnipeg on Thursday night. He hasn’t scored in 10 games.
Ovechkin understands what Kessel is going through.
“I think after a couple games, you think like, ‘OK, I’m gonna have a chance and I’m gonna score’ but after nine (10) games you feel like big pressure on your shoulder, especially in Toronto,” Ovechkin said. “The fans, the media all over him I think.
“Everybody knows he can score. He’s a top player out there. Lots of players play against him very carefully and give him more pressure. He just has to handle it”
On Tuesday, Kessel picked up two assists, his first on James van Riemsdyk’s second goal of the game and then he also helped out on rookie defenceman Korbinian Holzer’s shot from the point, his first NHL marker. Kessel now leads the Leafs with six assists this season.
Like Kessel, even though he isn’t scoring as much as he hoped, Ovechkin believes things would be worse for him if he wasn’t getting his chances.
“If I don’t have a chances of course I say, ‘OK, what’s wrong with me? What’s happened to me?’ But last two games, last three games I have chances,” Ovechkin said. “Sometimes I have to concentrate more on the puck in the offensive zone when the shots go through.
“A couple times there was a rebound right there and my stick was high. I just have to find it.”
Former Leaf Joey Crabb, now with Washington, also has some advice for his former teammate.