Not only can future Hall of Fame goaltender Henrik Lundqvist call Alex Ovechkin a former teammate, but he can also lay claim to being one of Ovi’s most terrorized victims in goal, too. The Vezina-winning Lundqvist was scored on by Ovi 24 times during his illustrious 15-year career — more than any other goaltender in NHL history except Marc-Andre Fleury (25).
With that context established, I would like to take you to this past Wednesday, where Lundqvist was asked by the TNT panel if Ovechkin had the best shot he’s ever faced.
Lundqvist said it was “up there” and then took the time to explain, with nuance, what makes Ovechkin’s howitzer of a shot just so darn special.
Some insight on Alex Ovechkin's shot from Henrik Lundqvist who had to face it quite a few times. pic.twitter.com/P0dHfC13Pn
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“[Ovechkin’s shot] is up there for sure,” Lundqvist said. “It’s heavy. A lot of times it’s not the most accurate but it’s so hard. And the flex on his stick makes it so hard to read. A lot of times it felt like it was coming at you, towards your body, then it shifted a little bit.
“There are a few guys in the league where they shoot and you go UGH,” Lundqvist continued. “You almost get surprised. He had that shot where you thought you had it and it surprised you every single time.”
So not only is Ovechkin’s shot heavy and fast, but the whipping action created by his 80-flex twigs causes the puck to be off course of where you expect it to be.
Ovechkin, who is 238 pounds, should be playing with sticks that have around a 120 flex. Instead, he has chosen twigs that have a much lower flex, giving him the ability to get shots off quicker and be more of a playmaker.
Simply, a stick flex rating is the number of pounds of force required to bend the shaft one inch. Thus, a 100-flex stick is stiffer than an 85.
An oft-repeated rule of thumb says to use a stick with a flex rating half that of your body weight. In 2017-18, the average NHL player’s weight (not counting goalies) was 200.7 pounds, so you do the math. But why would you stray from that guideline?
It depends on your style of play. A stiffer flex stick will help you win puck battles along the boards and faceoffs, and if you’re blasting shots from the point you’ll create more power. Less hockey stick flex increases your feel, better for sending and receiving passes, controlling the puck and getting off shots quickly and precisely.
“There’s no secret to [Ovechkin’s] numbers,” Lundqvist concluded. “He’s that good. He’s determined. He’s on a mission right now. You can see it.”
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