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Ovechkin adjusting to RW, rising from rough start

Feb 12, 2013, 9:55 AM EDT

Montreal Canadiens v Washington Capitals Getty Images

27-year-old forward Alex Ovechkin‘s struggles this season have paralleled the Washington Capitals, but there might be a glimmer of hope for both of them.

Although Ovechkin’s transition to the right wing has been a rough one, it’s starting to pay dividends. The Russian star found is riding a four-game point streak after finding the back of the net in Washington’s 5-0 victory over Florida on Saturday.

“All the reads are different [from the right side of the ice,]” Capitals coach Adam Oates said, according to CSN Washington. “Every little decision is a little different. To me he’s getting 10 chances [a game] that he never got before.”

Part of what the shift does is force Ovechkin to come up with new moves to replace the ones that have grown stale and predictable over the years.

To that end, playing alongside 33-year-old forward Mike Ribeiro has also helped. The Capitals acquired Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars in June.

“I told him a few times to shoot for different spots,” Ribeiro said. “Goalies are more patient on him, waiting for his high shots.

“If he can go five-hole a few times he can make those guys think a little bit more than if he goes high glove all the time. Now if the goalie sees he went five-hole a few times he might go down a little faster. He can play with their minds a little more.”

Ovechkin will attempt to extend his point streak to five contests in a rematch against the Panthers tonight.

  1. jpelle82 - Feb 12, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    i’m not seeing 10 more chances a game but ok.

  2. esracerx46 - Feb 12, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    Ribeiro had to tell Ovi not to always shoot at the same spot? Wow, perhaps I can be a hockey coach!

    • jpelle82 - Feb 12, 2013 at 10:16 AM

      like he never thought of that before…seems hard to believe but then again, ovechkin doesnt give off that mensa vibe either

    • davebabychreturns - Feb 12, 2013 at 11:07 AM

      It’s true of pretty much anything – if you have to learn a new skill, it’s almost always better to learn it from someone who had to use hard work, dedication and practice to master it than to learn from someone who “just gets it.”

      Not that Ribeiro isn’t a gifted player but a guy like Alex Ovechkin would have spent the first 15 years of his career scoring more or less at will so learning to give your opponent different looks probably didn’t seem even necessary.

      It’s a shame the Caps let it get this far with Ovechkin – you have to think that he would have had an easier time trying to add new elements to his game before his confidence took a beating with a couple of ‘off’ (by his standards) seasons – but I think giving him a coach and a linemate with tons of experience and pretty good vision on the ice is a great idea.

      • stakex - Feb 12, 2013 at 12:12 PM

        The mistake the Capitals made was to force one of the best natural offensive talents in league history to try and play a far more structured, defensive minded game. Hes never been the same since, and as you point out…. its taken the Caps far too long to try and correct that problem.

      • davebabychreturns - Feb 12, 2013 at 12:21 PM

        Well. I don’t think playing semi-responsible defense and having a green light to create scoring chances are mutually exclusive notiongs.. look what the Devils did with Kovalchuk.

        I think on the mental side of the game Ovie is still raw (for a player with his age and experience), that’s more what the Capitals should have been ahead of.. trying to get him thinking a bit more at both ends of the rink.

      • 19to77 - Feb 12, 2013 at 4:45 PM

        I don’t know, I think Kovalchuk is simply a way more cerebral and honestly much more skilled hockey player. He has greater depth and understanding of the game than I think Ovi is capable of.

  3. valoisvipers - Feb 12, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    Mickey Ribs telling Ovi how to score.What a joke!

    • 19to77 - Feb 12, 2013 at 10:37 AM

      Somebody obviously has to, since he seems to have largely forgotten how.

  4. 19to77 - Feb 12, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    Aaaand confirming for the entire world the “Ovechkin has one move and everyone’s figured it out” theory is none other than one of his own teammates. Go figure, he really IS that uncreative.

    • jpelle82 - Feb 12, 2013 at 11:09 AM

      exactly…its a way of everyone in washington nicely stating the obvious.

    • stakex - Feb 12, 2013 at 12:19 PM

      The thing thats always bothered me about that suggestion is this: If the guy only ever had one move…. why did it take teams six seasons to stop it? Teams study tape for hours on end, and if it was really as simple as “Hey, this guy has one move”, Ovechkin would have had one good season and that would have been it. Instead he drove teams and defenses nuts for years. You simply do not do that with one move…. not for six years.

      Its far more plausable that Ovechkins own play, not that of other teams, is what has caused his slump. I mean sure, that cut to the inside and shoot throug the defensemen move doesn’t work that often anymore…. but thats not where most of Ovechkins goals have come from over the years anyway.

  5. ravenscaps48 - Feb 12, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    That’s because he’s been playing Left Wing.

    • ravenscaps48 - Feb 12, 2013 at 11:17 AM

      He played 4 games at RW and shifted back to the left side due to lack of direction and productivity. His four goals. Three were left side snipes on the power play along the dashers. And his lone even strength goal came off of the faceoff in the right circle where he lined up in the slot.

      • stakex - Feb 12, 2013 at 12:08 PM

        Theres no doubt his shift to right wing has thrown Ovechkin for a loop. I think the switch back to left wing for a few games was a panic move by Oates. In a short season like this, you can’t have your star player taking 20-30 games to get use to a new position…. if it doesn’t click right away, it might need to wait till next season.

        Though Ovechkin has actually looked better on the right side over the last couple games when compared to the first four. He hasn’t scored from there yet, but hes created some chances.

  6. ethanmacleod1685 - Feb 12, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    Really hope he finds his game. He used to be the most exciting player in the league!

  7. chelseax11 - Feb 12, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    As a Pens fan it pains me to admit this, but I hope Ovi and the Caps come back to elite form. He is way too talented of a player to not win a cup. I’d like to see him do it with the Caps, too, since they’re the team that he built.

  8. obnoxiousDCfan - Feb 12, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    If I hear one more person from the Caps organization come out saying “I think these guys are playing good hockey” after every loss, I’m going to go nuts. If you’re playing good hockey, you win.
    Stop writing all these articles about Ovechkin like he’s the problem. The problem is defense, but I guess that just doesn’t grab the headlines like “First overall pick sucks now!”, does it?
    Where’s the headline “Despite goals from unlikely heroes, Caps defense continues woes”???
    That’s what I thought. Go ahead, continue acting like Ovi is the one in net.

  9. mp1113 - Feb 12, 2013 at 10:19 PM

    keep hating on him. 5 game point streak and the game tying goal tonight. huge win for the caps tonight

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