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It Starts At The Top

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Since authoring "The Sequel" on February 18, Alex Ovechkin has racked up six goals and seven assists in a dozen game, a 102-point pace over the course of a full season. He had a ten-game point-scoring streak snapped last night, and has been held off the scoresheet just two times in his past 22 outings.

Not bad.

But do you want to know what is bad? Over that 12-game span mentioned above, AO has a minus-8 rating (including back-to-back minus-2's in his last two games), and hasn't had a plus rating in a single game. Not one. And his five even strength points are just two more than Shaone Morrisonn has over that same stretch.

Alex Ovechkin, it seems, is bored. Bored enough to take shifts off. Bored enough to not backcheck on every play as if the season depended on it... which may be fine, because the season doesn't depend on it. Yet.

Soon enough, though, one bad shift might be the difference between advancing a round in the playoffs and going home disappointed. Again. But for now, a subpar effort isn't terribly costly, and so they happen. And when they do, one often needs to look no further than at the team's de facto captain, from whom the other 17 skaters on any given night take their lead - as AO goes, so go the Caps. That's why he's the League's most valuable player.

In some ways, it's too bad AO isn't a little more motivated by individual accomplishments and accolades (he certainly doesn't have a second consecutive Hart Trophy locked up quite yet), because the team could use a more focused version of the Great Eight right now. And perhaps it's been a necessary break of sorts for him. But it's just about time for him to put the team back on his broad shoulders. It's time for the leader to lead.