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Ovechkin could learn from Michael Jordan’s evolution

Nov 13, 2011, 2:46 PM EDT

Alexander Ovechkin AP

With seven goals in 15 games, Alex Ovechkin is on pace to surpass the 32 goals he scored last season. But only barely. At his current rate, he’ll get 38.

In 2007-08, he had 65.

Given the above, CSNWashington.com’s Chuck Gormley wonders if Ovechkin needs to reinvent himself as a player.

“Opposing defensemen and forwards are taking away his shooting lanes, getting their sticks and shin pads on many of Ovechkin’s attempts at the net,” writes Gormley.

It’s hardly breaking news the NHL has a book on Ovechkin; however, it remains to be seen if he can counter the adjustments Washington’s opponents have made to slow him down. I wouldn’t use the word “reinvent” — more like evolve.

The truly great athletes never stop taking their games to the next level. Case in point, Michael Jordan was almost 30 before he became a threat from 3-point range.

“It wasn’t a planned thing, it just happened,” Jordan told the New York Times in 1990. “It makes guys have to play me farther from the basket. If they get up on me, I can go around them. If they don’t, I can take the shot. It opens up our offense and gives the other team something else to worry about.”

  1. paul621 - Nov 13, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    This guy’s got a point… If Ovie starts hitting 3s, the Caps would be unstoppable!

    • Jason Brough - Nov 13, 2011 at 4:34 PM

      Like to see him score some touchdowns too.

  2. danphipps01 - Nov 13, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    It’s a good point. It’s not that Ovi isn’t taking a lot of shots – it’s that he’s taking them from the same places the defenders and goalies have seen him shoot from before. They know what’s coming and they move to stop it – and Ovi doesn’t seem flexible enough mentally to adjust on the fly, or at least not yet. If he can open up his scoring angles, he’ll be dangerous again, but there’s something else he needs to start doing more – hitting. He’s backed way off of the physical game he used to play, despite being as big and fast as ever. A lot of the trouble teams used to have with him came from the fact that he could come barrelling in and take or dish hits without hesitation to open up the lane he sniped through. Nowadays he seems to just skate in and shoot and doesn’t do much physically to force the issue. Defenders can just attack his stick or block his shot. He won’t do much to stop that.

    Once he picks up his physical game, he’ll start scoring more even from the same angles – and if he starts shooting from different areas, we could see a return to his old form again.

  3. stakex - Nov 13, 2011 at 4:49 PM

    You know, it always bothers me when people assume the reason for Ovechkin’s scoring issues since the begining of last season is simply that hes being played tighters. You mean to tell me it took the league FIVE years to figure out how to play Ovi, and not only that but every single team started doing it at the same time? That doesn’t make any sense. Its not simply that teams are playing him better. Hes always been swarmed when he touches the puck, hes always had guys in the lanes. Its just that the last year or so has seen Ovechkin struggle to find openings like he could in years past.

    A couple things stand out from just watching a few Caps games this year that help explain Ovechkins slow start this year. For one, Ovechkin seems to have lost a step in the last year or two. Be it an injury, or poor conditioning Ovechkin is lacking his explosive speed he had in years past. He also seems to be struggling with handling the puck. I have only watched a couple Caps games this year… but every time I saw Ovechkin try to carry the puck, he seemed to struggle making any sort of move with the puck (his new sticks perhaps?). Thats something I don’t ever recall being an issue for Ovechkin before this season, and its costing him at least a shot or two a game.

    The biggest thing though when it comes to Ovechkin and his scoring issues might simply be the Caps system as a whole. Last year the entire team saw a huge drop off in offense… and the Caps power play struggles saw Ovechkin score just 7 PP goals last year. Throw in a handful of goals Ovechkin had waved off, a few posts he hit in his goal drout last fall, and some bad luck…. and its not hard to see why he only had 32 goals last year.

    • danphipps01 - Nov 13, 2011 at 6:45 PM

      So you’re saying that he’s struggling to find openings like he used to… but players better-recognizing how to close those openings off isn’t the reason. Alright. What do you think is? Let’s not look at goal totals or the system change here, let’s just look at the shots he IS taking and why they’re not going in. He’s in the same shooting positions as always, and it seems from the games I’ve watched that most of them get blocked or he’s forced to shoot from a bad angle. If there’s another explanation for why those openings aren’t there other than defenders knowing to cut them off, I can’t see what it is.

  4. tk1966 - Nov 13, 2011 at 5:36 PM

    So basically the article is saying that the Geico spokesman is not the complete player.

  5. wheresdapuck - Nov 14, 2011 at 6:38 AM

    As Ovie moved into the captian spot, it becomes much more important for him as a team player. He was a man on mission when scoring 60+ goals – albeit a one man mission. It would far better serve the Caps if Ovie only has 35-40 goals, but more like 60-70 assits per year – then he is moving the puck around and the TEAM is scoring! Much more effective in post season play…

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