October 24 2013 12:56PM
Alex Ovechkin is my favourite player to watch in the NHL. I loved his "hot stick" celebration after he scored 50 goals for the 3rd time in his career, and right now he's scoring goals more frequently than everyone, including Steven Stamkos.
Ovechkin has 9 goals in 9 games this season, and 31 in his last 30 games dating back to last year. After scoring 32 goals in 2011 and 38 in 2012, many wrote Ovechkin had lost his offensive flair and had become too predictable.
Adam Oates became the coach of the Capitals and he convinced Ovechkin he could be more productive on the right wing, after playing the previous seven NHL seasons on the left side.
Oates moved Ovechkin to the right wing last year, and after some early struggles and adjustments, Ovechkin has returned to his elite scoring ways.
If you think 30 games is too short of a sample size to illustrate Ovechkin's dominant goal scoring ability, here's some more proof.
Since entering the NHL in 2005/2006 Ovechkin has scored 380 goals. The next closest is Ilya Kovalchuk with 309. Jarome Iginla and Dany Heatley are tied for 3rd most with 280 goals. In the previous eight seasons Ovechkin has scored 100 more goals than every player, except one.
What about Steven Stamkos you ask?
Stamkos is also an elite goal scorer, and since he entered the league, 2008/2009, he and Ovechkin are equally dangerous.Ovechkin has outscored him 217-213, and that four goal lead is due to a 9-5 Ovechkin advantage this season.
To be fair, if you exclude Stamkos' rookie season he has outscored Ovechkin the past four seasons. They are clearly the elite goal scorers in the game.
Iif you were one who wrote off Ovechkin, many of you scoffed at me when I said the Oilers should trade for him last February, you might want to reconsider your stance.
OVIE VS. YAKUPOV
Yakupov isn't going to be like Ovechkin, mainly because he isn't 6'3" and 230 pounds, but he has the potential to be a dangerous scorer like him.
It is interesting to note that Oates convinced Ovechkin to switch wings last season and go from his off-wing to the right side.Dallas Eakins has moved Yakupov from his off-wing to his natural left-side and he's hoping for the same results.
Keep in mind it took Ovechkin, a proven NHL scorer, 20 games to adjust to the new wing. The Oilers and Yakupov will need to be patient as he learns to play the left side.
Ovechkin admitted that he wanted to switch back to the left side early last year, but Oates convinced him to stick with it. Today, Ovechkin says he feels more comfortable on the right side than he ever did on the left.
Marc Arcobello continues to shine. He is only the 3rd rookie in the past 20 years to score ten points in the first ten games of his rookie season. Sidney Crosby had 12 points in 2005, while Patrick Kane had ten. Arcobello has ten assists, and while he did play one game last season, this is considered his rookie year.
He's off to a great start. I don't expect him to produce like Kane or Crosby for the rest of the season, but if he continues to play the way he has, in both ends of the rink, he will be a constant contributor in the lineup.
The Capitals have a big skilled group of forwards:
Smid and Petry will see a lot of Ovechkin tonight. "He is very difficult to contain. He's big, strong and one of the few skilled guys who likes to play physical," said Petry.
- The Oilers should be able to generate a lot of chances tonight. The Capitals have allowed 34.3 shots/game (26th most) thus far, but the Capitals are also 10th in shots for, 31.4/game. Adam Oates stated he wants his team to be better defensively, but so far that hasn't happened.
- Ovechkin has 5-3-8 in six games vs. the Oilers. His best game against the Oilers came on December 19th, 2009. Ovechkin potted two goals and an assist in the third period of a 4-2 comeback victory for the Capitals.
- What makes Ovechkin such dangerous as a scorer is his ability to get off a hard shot from anywhere around his body. If a pass is behind him, in front of him, in his skates or close to his body, he is able to adjust his body positioning to get a shot off with velocity. His release point can change from shot to shot.
- Devan Dubnyk has never faced Ovechkin. Tonight is his first chance to try and shut down one of the game's best snipers. He jokingly said he was excited and nervous at the same time.
- Dubnyk told me the one adjustment he made after the first four games is that he is now coming out to the top of the crease to get set. If he does sink back, he is still out of his net more than he was in the first four games.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers pick up their third straight win with a 4-2 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Former Oiler Jason Chimera scores.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After scoring only two goals in the first nine games, the Oilers blueline continues their recent hot-streak with two more. Petry and Smid scored in Montreal, and tonight Anton Belov gets his first NHL goal and Petry pots his 3rd of the season.