By Nick Wass/Associated Press.


“Coach Adam Oates put Alex Ovechkin back on a line with center Jay Beagle and right wing Joey Crabb Monday morning and said he intends to start the next game with that trio intact,” Katie Carrera reported this week.

“It doesn’t matter what I’m gonna play: left side, center or right side,” Ovechkin said a few days earlier.

Well, a great many Caps fans think it does matter, and would prefer seeing Ovechkin on the left side, with Nicklas Backstrom as his center. And, surprise surprise, a certain much-derided national broadcaster person agrees with them.

“He’s a left winger with Nick Backstrom,” Pierre McGuire said of Ovechkin on Ottawa’s The Team 1200. (Audio here.) “That’s the best place for him. That’s where he’s comfortable. He likes to fly in the zone, he likes to get up the ice, he likes to do that one-on-one where he cuts wide, goes to his left and then can cut back to the middle and try to beat the defenseman. But everybody in the league’s aware of that move, so he’s gonna have to come up with a different move, or he’s gonna have to trail the play and look for one-time chances….

“I don’t think Ovechkin’s ever gonna [get goals by crashing the net], so you’re gonna have to just play off of what Ovechkin’s good at,” McGuire continued. “And what he’s good at is shooting the puck and leading the rush. That’s what he’s really good at, and he’s probably gonna have to go that way. But he needs a playmaker like Backstrom to be good.”

“Do you think he’s capable of scoring 50 goals in this league again?” McGuire was then asked.

“No. I do not,” he said.

“What’s the right number? I mean, is 40 going to be a good number for him going forward?” McGuire was asked.

“I think 40’s a good number for anybody,” McGuire said. “Fifty’s a lot. This is a hard league to score in. I think I’ve shared this with you before — [Ovechkin’s] lost a gear. He’s about a half-gear to a gear short of what he used to be with his speed. He used to have that one extra burst that could get him free for a lot of open opportunities. He does not have that anymore. I watched him on Sunday again. I mean, yeah he gets a power-play goal — which was great for Washington — but outside of that power-play goal, how much did you see from Alexander Ovechkin on Sunday? Not a whole lot?”

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