Thom Loverro: Does Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin wish he was back in Russia?

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The Washington Capitals' falling superstar continues to struggle, as does his team, out of the gate in this strike-shortened NHL season, with one embarrassing loss after another, including a 5-2 defeat to the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

Alexander Ovechkin contributed one meaningless third period goal in that loss, and in 11 games, the former NHL MVP has three goals -- all on power plays -- entering Saturday night's scheduled contest against Carolina.

You can chalk some of this up to the short training camp following the lockout, and the team's struggles in part to rookie coach Adam Oates trying to establish his system and style on such short notice.

But Ovechkin came here from playing in the KHL for his hometown Dynamo Moscow team -- the team he debuted with at age 16 in 2001 -- where he scored 19 goals and 21 assists, and, despite the differences in style of play and talent level, Ovechkin should not be struggling this much offensively.

Even he acknowledged he was surprised at his play, given his stint in Moscow.

"Yeah. To be honest with you, yeah," he told reporters. "Maybe it's just different hockey. Maybe it's just different size of ice, but again it's kind of surprised me because out there, you can see, lots of guys have lots of points and goals. Right now I'm standing here, I have only three points and it kind of embarrasses me but it is what it is."

What it is is not fun, and it hasn't been fun for Ovechkin on Fun Street for a year and a half now. If you listen to what he said upon his return to Washington to start the season, playing in Russia was a lot of fun.

"For me personally it was great," Ovechkin said. "First of all, I was in my hometown with my family and my friends. ... It was a good thing. [I] play for my home team in front of my old fans. ... I think I have a very good experience there."

You have to wonder, after having a taste of that for several months, if Ovechkin wishes he were back in Moscow playing for the Dynamo instead of here in Washington skating for the Capitals.

If you read further into what Ovechkin told reporters before the season started, it would appear that the only reason he chooses to play in the NHL is money. That's a pretty good reason, and hardly unique, but it begs the question: If all things were equal, where would Ovechkin rather be?

He told reporters if salaries had been cut in a new NHL labor deal, he would have stayed in Russia. "All the Russian players there, if they were going to cut our contracts, we'd probably all stay there," he said.

Alex Ovechkin may be singing the Simon and Garfunkel tune, "I wish I was Homeward bound. Home, where my thought's escaping."

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

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Thom Loverro

Sports columnist
The Washington Examiner