Adam Oates is trying to get the most out of Alex Ovechkin, and that includes “absolutely” considering using the Washington Capitals superstar in a penalty-killing role this season.
Oates had a front-row seat as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils last season to Ilya Kovalchuk using penalty-killing time to round out his defensive game, and now he’s willing to experiment with Ovechkin doing the same. And the captain is OK with it, even though he realizes he won’t be a penalty-killing fiend right away.
“Of course I have to learn from the different guys. Of course I’m not gonna be first guy out there to PK guy. Probably I’m gonna be the last 30 seconds, maybe 40 seconds,” Ovechkin said Thursday night. “We’ll see how it goes. I talk to him and he just ask me ‘What do you think about it? Can you do it?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m gonna learn, I’m gonna teach, I’m gonna do my best to be out there and make some job done.’ ”
Ovechkin hasn’t talked to Kovalchuk about how his fellow Russian superstar thrived on the penalty kill. He’s not brand new to the role, either, having played 178 minutes and 38 seconds of his career short-handed, mostly in 2005-06 under Glen Hanlon and in 2008-09 under Bruce Boudreau.
And while Ovechkin is excited about Oates’ aggressive offensive system, he’s also willing to try penalty killing and accept more defensive responsibility.
“Why not? Last year I play defensive responsibility. It’s gonna be hard, but it’s gonna be something new for me,” Ovechkin said. “I played PK with Bruce and I played with Glen. It was not that much time, but how I said, last 30, 40 seconds I can be there and I can do job done.”