Photo: Chris Gordon
Recent years in Caps-land have been chaotic, but there’s always been something you can rely on: everybody having a different opinion on how Alex Ovechkin can improve. You’d think the sixth fastest player to 400 goals is maybe doing alright, but for the media and the revolving door of Caps coaches, “fixing” Ovechkin is always all the rage.
Dale Hunter wanted Ovechkin to sacrifice his body and block shots, Adam Oates wanted The Great Eight to play with fourth-liners, and Bruce Boudreau wanted Ovi to push the pace and look for odd-man breaks.
When asked if he’s noticed “subtle” changes in Ovi’s play during the preseason, the new Caps coach spoke about what he’s wanted the Russian machine to improve on: defense.
Here’s the key quote: “His stick was up around his shoulders at the start of camp and now it’s below the waist. We’ll get it right on the ice before too long.”
I have [noticed changes]. He’s actually quite detailed. He goes to people a lot more. There’s no fly-bys. I think him getting to the point coverage has been really, really good. He’s blocked some shots. He’s a much better passer than I gave him credit for. He can really pass the puck. He’s been physical; he’s been detailed. I don’t have any problems with Ovi, but he’s growing. There’s some things I’d like him to do better with his stick that he’s working on (offensively and defensively). It’s not coming quite naturally to him. There’s some things he can do. [I] can’t teach him a whole lot about offense… [smiles] because what he does I can’t teach.
Just stick on stick and break-up plays. There was one play a couple games back, if he just keeps his stick on puck, he can deflect the attack a little longer and make it harder on the defender to do something good and creative with the puck. That’s a little detail, but they’re coming. His stick was up around his shoulders at the start of camp and now it’s below the waist. We’ll get it right on the ice before too long.
That’s just showing he wants to learn. That’s just a hockey player wanting to get better.
See how Barry has helped coach Ovechkin in this below mic’d up video from CSN Washington (around the 30-second mark).
Of course, we all know that we don’t really want Ovechkin to merely play better defense. We want him to play less defense. That’s the whole point of the game. Maybe Trotz is the guy to get him there.
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