Photo credit: Andre Ringuette
Lots of smart and informed people have been dead wrong about Alex Ovechkin this year. Also wrong: Pierre McGuire, who I guess is smart and informed, but the jury is out on if he qualifies as human. Regardless, way back in January when Ovechkin was trying his first stint on the right wing, McGuire gave an interview to an Ottawa radio station where he delivered a litany of Wrong Things He Should Be Embarrassed About Now (if his species is even capable of embarrassment).
I wonder if anyone transcribed this interview. WAIT. THAT’S DAN STEINBERG’S MUSIC.
To set the stage: The Caps have won just one of their first four games. In those games, Alex Ovechkin has just one assist and one goal– nothing at even strength. Aaaaaand go.
“He’s a left winger with Nick Backstrom. That’s the best place for him. That’s where he’s comfortable. He likes to fly in the zone, he likes to get up the ice, he likes to do that one-on-one where he cuts wide, goes to his left and then can cut back to the middle and try to beat the defenseman. But everybody in the league’s aware of that move, so he’s gonna have to come up with a different move, or he’s gonna have to trail the play and look for one-time chances…”
Ovechkin switched back to left wing for a few games before making the right wing a permanent change. Then he scored 21 goals and 31 points in 20 games.
“I don’t think Ovechkin’s ever gonna [get goals by crashing the net], so you’re gonna have to just play off of what Ovechkin’s good at. And what he’s good at is shooting the puck and leading the rush. That’s what he’s really good at, and he’s probably gonna have to go that way.”
Ovechkin is definitely not leading the rush. He now typically allows his linemates to make the zone entry while he gets in position to score. And his slapshot distances on the power play have dropped by more than 10 feet since last season.
“Do you think he’s capable of scoring 50 goals in this league again?” McGuire was then asked.
“No. I do not,” he said.
Alex Ovechkin would be on a 55-goal pace in a full-length season, and that includes his blue period at the beginning of the year.
“[Ovechkin's] lost a gear. He’s about a half-gear to a gear short of what he used to be with his speed. He used to have that one extra burst that could get him free for a lot of open opportunities. He does not have that anymore.”
And yet, Alex Ovechkin is getting more shots on goal than last year (4.62, up from 3.88).
Quick reminder: Pierre McGuire actually gets paid to talk about hockey. There are actual, non-reptile humans across the continent who consider him both insightful and uncreepy.
P.S. Read DC Sports Bog.