Earlier this week Coach Adam Oates said he would “absolutely” consider using star winger Alex Ovechkin on the penalty kill.
Ovechkin’s experience shorthanded is scant at best — he’s played just 178 minutes and 38 seconds of penalty kill time in his seven year career — but Oates believes the benefits outweigh the risks.
It could help Ovechkin become a more well-rounded player, add another player who can anticipate the movements of a power-play unit, force opposing teams to worry about giving up a shorthanded goal and also help Oates keep the 27-year-old on the ice consistently regardless of the game situation.
After Thursday’s open practice, Ovechkin was asked about taking on the new challenge.
“Of course I have to learn from the different guys. Of course I’m not gonna be first guy out there to PK,” Ovechkin said, adding that he would probably play the last 30-40 seconds of a penalty kill. “We’ll see how it goes. I talk to [Oates], and he just ask me ‘What do you think about it? Can you do it?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m gonna learn; I’m gonna teach; I’m gonna do my best to be out there and make some job done.’”
Though he knows it will take some time to become fully versed in the penalty kill, Ovechkin said he doesn’t mind the additional defensive responsibility at all.
“Why not? Last year I play defensive responsibility. It’s gonna be hard, but it’s gonna be something new for me,” Ovechkin said. “I played PK with Bruce, and I played with Glen. It was not that much time. But how I said, last 30, 40 seconds I can be there and I can do job done.”