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McKenzie: Capitals' best players getting outworked

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Bob McKenzie
5/4/2011 12:54:00 AM
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Some thoughts from the NHL on TSN on Wednesday night:

There are not enough guys buying in. What it really boils down to is they're getting outworked. Your best players can't be getting outworked to the extent that the Washington Capitals best players are.

Forget Alex Ovechkin - he played great in this game - but Nicklas Backstrom, he barely had a heartbeat out there. He played a team high 24 minutes and 46 seconds and he had zero shots on goal. Sure he's a playmaker, but you've got to do better than that.

And let's not let Alexander Semin get a free pass on this either. He had one shot on goal - a pretty feeble shot late in the game, and he was minus-2 in the game.

Backstrom is in the first year of a 10-year deal that pays him $6.7 million per year and Semin is making $6.7 million next year, $6 million this year. When you've got that much salary tied up in those two guys and that's all you're getting offensively from them, you're in trouble.

Ovechkin can't carry the load; he needs help.

Higgins proving to be an effective add for the Canucks

One of the guys that really impressed me tonight was Ryan Kesler's line mate Chris Higgins. I thought he played a real strong game on the wall, was very physical, took pucks to the net and made things happen.

He got a real nice goal early in the third period that ended up what we thought might be the game-winning goal, but Nashville was able to tie it up and put it into overtime.

But I really liked the job Higgins did and he's been a real effective add for the Vancouver Canucks. He's a big, strong guy on the wall; he plays a physical game but he also can create offense. For a while there I thought he had his third game-winning goal of the playoffs – keep in mind the first two he got were game winners. That's his third goal of the playoffs and it was an important one.

Is Hedman counted on for too much as a 20-year-old defenceman?

Victor Hedman is a young defenceman. You forget he's only 20-years-old, and doesn't turn 21 until December, and he plays the second most minutes on the Tampa Bay blueline. Only Eric Brewer plays more minutes.

The whole defence corps for Tampa Bay, this is maybe a little bit of the soft underbelly of this team. One of the reasons they play the 1-3-1 defence is to try and insolate these guys a little bit because when you get by the veteran presence of Mattias Ohlund, and with Pavel Kubina out, and with Brewer playing as many minutes as he does, a guy like Hedman has to step up and play 20 plus minutes and tonight there have been a number of times where he's been victimized.

It's something to keep an eye on because he is logging a lot of minutes and he is breaking down at times because he's only 20-years-old.

Alexander Semin (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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