But maybe Ovechkin’s offense coming back is not just an adjustment to right wing but an adjustment to the rest of the NHL’s defense on him.
“I think on the left side, teams just took him away a lot of times through the years,” Ribeiro said. “He needs to adjust and give teams different looks, different things that you can do on the right side and maybe simplify his game a bit. … It’s a matter of changing your game a bit and being more focused, find different tricks to get there, to get the puck to the net.”
Getting the puck to the net from completely different angles at right wing is more than half the adjustment for Ovechkin. That part is something he said he must work on in practice.
“Sometimes in a game, every goalie play differently: Somebody could stay in the net, somebody going out off the net,” Ovechkin said. “I just have to get used to it.”
McPhee acknowledged that Ovechkin will have to get used to it, but the general manager also said he thinks it’s a good change for all involved. Oates said it took Ilya Kovalchuk about a month to get used to playing right wing last season with the New Jersey Devils, but once it happened everything clicked.
It’s not designed for Ovechkin to go down the left wing, toe drag and pop a shot that seemed to hit off defensemen’s shin pads more than go into the net in recent years. Oates knows the moves Ovechkin likes and has said he won’t take those away, but the idea is to get more out of him and keep him from being one-dimensional.
“I know he used to like a lot of times cut in the middle, use the D. He still can do it, but different ways,” Ribeiro said. “He’s good enough to adjust himself, and I think that’s the main thing.”