Photo: CTV News
The Toronto Maple Leafs are off to a slow start this season as they head into Tuesday’s game against the Washington Capitals (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington) at Scotiabank Arena with a 6-5-2 record. As Tuesday’s contest will be the Capitals’ lone visit to Toronto during the regular season, captain Alex Ovechkin was front and center in the media scrum. Ovechkin discussed the Maple Leafs’ struggle to get out of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, center Auston Matthews, and the Capitals’ own Stanley Cup Playoff struggles.
He told the media that the Maple Leafs have to “figure out if they’re playing for themselves or for a Stanley Cup,” if they want to turn things around.
“It’s up to them how they want to do it. If they want to play for themselves, or if they want to win a Stanley Cup they have to play differently.”
– Ovi bringing some 🔥 ahead of tonight’s game against the Leafs. pic.twitter.com/9p9cXAgkVl
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 29, 2019
The 34-year old said that Matthews “is going to be a great player and is right now.” He admired the 22-year old’s willingness to learn but when asked about advice that he would give Matthews about improving defensively, Ovechkin recommended that he would go to London Knights head coach Dale Hunter, who had a +101 rating in his 19-season NHL career and coached the Capitals during the 2011-12 season.
Ovechkin on Matthews’ desire, at young age, to be better defensively: “I think he should call Dale Hunter and ask him advice.” #Leafs
— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) October 29, 2019
Ovechkin said that the Maple Leafs, who have lost in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the past three seasons including to the Capitals in six games in 2017, are “still [a] young group of guys. I hope they’re gonna learn. But it’s up to them [on] how they want to do it. If they want to play for themselves or if they want to win [the] Cup, they have to play differently,” when asked what they can learn from the Capitals.
By Harrison Brown