Alex Ovechkin may enter Thursday’s game at Consol Energy Center without a single even-strength goal to his credit and only five points through 10 games, but that doesn’t mean the Pittsburgh Penguins prepare for the Washington captain any differently.
“He’s still the same threat to me,” Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “Soon as you put your guard down against him, he’ll eat you alive.”
Sidney Crosby, who has four goals and 10 assists in 10 games, said he was “a little bit” surprised that Ovechkin hasn’t found the back of the net consistently at the start of the season.
“I’ve watched a couple games and I think he’s had some good chances and the puck hasn’t gone in,” Crosby said. “I think that obviously there’s always expectations, there’s a lot of eyes on him. There’s pressure that comes with that, but I think that he’s still shooting the puck well, still creating some good chances. Someone you definitely have to be aware of. I don’t see that as a big problem for him. I think he’s gonna generate chances and I’m sure eventually the points will come.”
Despite the numbers, Pittsburgh Coach Dan Bylsma said Ovechkin remains a dangerous player to face.
“This guy can skate, he’s physical, tough, he’s tough to handle, he’s got a great shot. I see all those things,” Bylsma said. “He’s in a spot on the power play where he’s very dangerous, he creeps up and down the back side with skilled playmakers — he’s dangerous there. That’s what you see.”
Crosby offered a similar sentiment.
“With his shot I think you’re always dangerous, no matter where he is in the offensive zone,” Crosby said. “He’s a big guy, he’s got a lot of speed, so he creates chances and he did a good job last game, I thought. He’s probably gonna get his chances. You just got to make sure you know where he is on the ice and try and take away that big shot.”
Orpik has lined up consistently against Ovechkin throughout their careers, and says the winger remains a focal point of the Penguins’ game plan. Orpik doesn’t expect Ovechkin’s dry spell to continue too much longer, either.
“I think he’s too competitive and too good a player for that to last long,” Orpik said. “They have a new coach, new system, so maybe there’s a transition period for the team and individually for guys like him, too.”
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