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So much of the growing pains have to do with Ovechkin’s switch to the right wing. While Oates was an assistant in Tampa Bay, he oversaw St. Louis’ left wing cameo, and while he was on staff with the New Jersey Devils last season he watched as Ilya Kovalchuk made the successful transition to the right side.

That’s why Oates will likely be patient with Ovechkin in the coming games.

There’s no point in pulling the plug on an experiment that the coach believes brings “balance” to Ovechkin’s game.

“It balances his game out and gives him the opportunity to get more pucks on both sides of the ice,” Oates said. “When I watched him in the past, I know his spot and I know what he loves. And I’m not taking that away. But we’re just trying to add and get him more touches.”

Hiccups are to be expected. Ovechkin fell into the habit of trying to fall back behind Backstrom along the left wing, a movement he has done for the past five years that now leaves him out of position.

“It’s not about the chemistry, it’s not about the system,” Ovechkin said. “It’s all about me, like where I have to go. It’s just a mentality.”

A mentality that Oates thinks he can find sooner rather than later.

“He’s an upper-echelon player; I think he’ll figure that stuff out,” he said. “I think there’s times he’ll be stuck. There will be times Nick will be stuck because he’s used to seeing him come from a different direction. But the goal is to get him more touches and to get Ovi more situations.”

The goal, at the end of the day, is to get Ovechkin in position to score goals — especially with the Caps letting consistent 20-plus-goal-scorer Alexander Semin depart in free agency.

Essentially, it’s the expectation for Ovechkin and the top line to play like it.

With “our system and our skill level,” Ovechkin said, “we have to play better.”