Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. In recent games there was little denying that neither Alex Ovechkin nor Nicklas Backstrom were playing with the swagger everyone in Washington has grown accustomed to in recent seasons. Yesterday morning, Coach Bruce Boudreau said he firmly believed that both players would work their way out of their slumps. He couldn't expect anything less of either one.
Backstrom agreed that things had been "a little off" and that the seamless chemistry wasn't always there and a day earlier Ovechkin said he just needed to keep working even if he made mistakes.
Wednesday night, with the adjustment of Ovechkin on the right wing rather than his regular spot on the left, both players showed the electric and endless possibilities that exist when both are playing with confidence. They figured in on all three goals, combined for five points, 15 shots and they were both, as Boudreau said after the 3-2 win over Carolina, what he expects them to be.
Boudreau said the idea to put Ovechkin on the right side came after a shift by the two-time MVP in Monday's 5-0 loss to New Jersey when he skated down the right side against the Devils and took two shots.
"My thoughts were that he always cuts into the middle, I just wanted him to start driving his legs a little bit more," Boudreau said. "When he's driving in the middle [while playing left wing] they put so much back pressure on him, the defensemen are standing up and the back pressure was there and he wasn't able to get his shot away. He'll be back there in no time, when Mike [Knuble] gets back, I would assume.
"I was just looking to get his legs moving," Boudreau said. "Sometimes when he stretches [at left wing] he ends up standing at the blueline and he gets caught on this side. The right wingers for our team most of the time is the guy coming across, so he's always moving his legs."
Said Ovechkin: "I think in the first five minutes, I always wanted to go to my usual side and I make one step and then I say, 'Ok, I have to go back and play [right wing].'.. I think today we feel pretty good and we played hard. The best thing is we wanted to play hard in the defensive zone and make sure we get pucks to the neutral zone to try and create plays over there. I think we did a pretty good job."
Perhaps this game was what both Ovechkin and Backstrom needed to snap out of their mini-slumps, but one thing's for sure and that's the intangible qualities of both players' games, which was missing in the previous handful of outings, was readily apparent on the ice against Carolina.
AROUND THE WEB
The Bears lost 3-2 to Worcester Wednesday night. (The Patriot News)
Jared DeMichiel was recalled to Hershey from the South Carolina Stingrays yesterday. (Stack the Pads)