- The Washington Times
Wednesday, February 19, 2020

ARLINGTON — New acquisition Brenden Dillon hasn’t arrived in Washington yet, but Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan fielded questions about the trade Wednesday morning and said the team was pursuing a top-4 defenseman regardless of the Capitals’ recent slump.

“No, I think we wanted to do that anyway, the top-4 D,” MacLellan said. “I think we have a good team that’s not playing the right way, and we need to find the right way to play.”

The Capitals are 10-10-0 in their last 20 games, including 4-6-0 with 36 goals allowed in 10 games since the All-Star break.

Alex Ovechkin’s ongoing quest for 700 career goals has also hit a speed bump. After he went on a tear in January and early February, Ovechkin stalled at 698 goals and hasn’t scored in five games — games in which Washington went 1-4-0.

Asked if the chase for 700 was potentially distracting the Capitals, MacLellan and Ovechkin had differing opinions.

“From observing, I would say I think everybody wants him to get it and are trying hard for him to get it and I think we would benefit from just: Let’s play our game and it’s going to happen organically,” MacLellan said. “It’s just going to take care of itself. But you’d have to ask him that specifically if it’s affecting him. But I think if we play the right way it’s going to happen sooner than later.”

Ovechkin shrugged off the idea that it was affecting either him or his teammates.

“No, I don’t think [anyone] thinks about it,” Ovechkin said “If it happens, it happens. How I said, it’s just a matter of time. Tomorrow, after tomorrow, whatever. So we’re focusing right now to get our game better, securing a playoff spot and then we’ll move on.”

Last week, after a 5-3 loss to the Islanders, Tom Wilson and other Capitals players faced similar lines of query.

“I don’t know if it’s a distraction. Maybe it is,” Wilson said. “But in the NHL, when you’re a professional, you’re supposed to deal with what’s gonig on around you. It’s not always a great day at home. It’s not always a great day at the rink. You come to the rink and you’ve got to perform. … Obviously we want Ovi to get to 700. That’s gonna be a great day when he does. But for now we gotta worry about the two points at the end of the night.”

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