It’s been a process, probably slower than most Capitals fans would like, but Alex Ovechkin is learning how to be a right wing.
And, perhaps even more importantly, he’s liking it.
After scoring just two power-play goals and one assist while averaging just 3.1 shots in his first seven games, Ovechkin has turned a corner. He has two goals and three assists in his last five games and is generating an average of 5.4 shots per game, most of them from the right side.
“The first couple games I didn’t feel comfortable and then I go back to left wing,” Ovechkin said of his early frustrations. “Then I watch a movie with [Adam] Oates and he just said the time is there. You just have to get used to it and talk to your linemates.”
Now playing on a line with center Mike Ribeiro and left wing Jason Chimera, Ovechkin is carrying the puck through the neutral zone more now than at any time in his career.
Against the Panthers on Saturday, he scored his first goal of the season from the right side. It came off a snap shot following a faceoff win by Ribeiro.
“All the reads are different [from the right side of the ice,]” Oates said on Monday as the Caps prepared for a two-game road trip to face the Panthers and Lightning. “Every little decision is a little different. To me he’s getting 10 chances [a game] that he never got before.”
If Oates can convince Ovechkin he is a more dangerous player as a right wing it will be a major victory for the first-year coach.
It’s no secret around the NHL that Ovechkin’s patented moves had become far too predictable and that opposing defensemen and goaltenders knew where to position themselves when the 27-year-old winger crossed the blue line.
In fact, during practices last season, former Caps defenseman Dennis Wideman routinely frustrated Ovechkin by poke-checking the puck off his stick when he tried cutting from left to right.
Ovechkin beginning to embrace right wing
CSN Washington | Feb 12