Over the course of the 2010-11 season, it became clear that opposing defenses had identified and found ways to defend Alex Ovechkin’s most common maneuvers. Those trends have continued into this year.
Opportunities for the Capitals’ star left wing coming on the rush have become increasingly rare. When they do occur, defensemen are applying pressure, anticipating his action and stripping the puck away. Ovechkin’s frustration was apparent in the Capitals’ last outing when he was credited with 11 hits in the 3-2 shootout loss to the Devils. The captain voiced it in saying, “My job to score goals, not make the hits.”
Of Ovechkin’s seven goals this season, he’s recorded three on booming one-timer slap shots and the others have all been a product of his positioning in the crease (or very close to it) with traffic where he has tipped pucks, found rebounds and just been in the right place at the right time. The cliché about making one’s own luck exists for a reason, though, and when Ovechkin has put himself in those positions this season he’s been successful and has created potential scoring chances.
Coach Bruce Boudreau will push buttons, through positioning, line combinations and other methods to try to get Ovechkin humming along offensively, and don’t be surprised if you see some here during the road trip. Asked how he works to get Ovechkin back on track, Boudreau alluded to meetings, video sessions and simply giving him the best chance to score.
“You just try to build his confidence up and at the same time help him with things he’s doing wrong,” Boudreau said. “There’s not much else, a lot of times it’s up to him. You try to put him in positions or situations to succeed in and he’s got to find a way to succeed.”