Anyone with even so much as passing knowledge of the National Hockey League will be aware that stopping Alexander Ovechkin is going to be a top priority for the New York Rangers. Ovechkin led the league in goals for the third time in his NHL career this season with 32. And exactly half of them came while on the powerplay.
John Buccigross, known by many as the only person at ESPN willing to acknowledge the existence of hockey, has published some pretty interesting details on his Twitter feed about how Ovechkin is effective. Let's look at the information and expand on it.
Here is a chart depicting exactly which areas of the net Ovechkin scores his goals. Of his 32 goals this season, 18 went stick-side. The good news for the Rangers is that Henrik Lundqvist is arguably the best stick-side goaltender in the NHL. Compared to the 48 goals that Lundqvist let in on his glove-side this season, only 23 beat him stick-side. You can see from the chart that 5-hole is also a somewhat popular choice for Ovechkin, and Lundqvist is also a phenomenal goaltender on low shots. The best way to beat Lundqvist is glove-side, which is an area Ovechkin seems to favor least. In sum, it's Lundqvist is a favorable matchup against the Capitals' top offensive player.
Alex Ovechkin Goals by Shot LocationLeft Circle16<<In front/slot6Point6Right Circle4>>14 on the power play— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) April 30, 2013
Of course, Ovechkin is a threat to score from just about anywhere in the offensive zone, but these stats show that he is, by a drastic measure, most effective from the left circle. And specifically on the powerplay.
The first line of defense is simply to not take penalties. Ovechkin can't score on the powerplay if you don't take penalties. Obviously, that's easier said than done. The Rangers are the were the least penalized team in the NHL during the regular season and referees tend to become more laissez-faire once the playoffs begin. Nonetheless, penalties are of course going to happen over the course of a playoff series. But they need to be limited. Don't take offensive zone penalties. Don't end up a man down because of post-whistle stuff. No pucks unecessarily shot over the glass.
For the inevitable penalty kills, though, proper adjustments need to be made. Especially with one fewer forward on the ice, it's easy to lose track of players one is responsible for. The Rangers can't afford to leave Ovechkin open, and specifically around that left faceoff circle. Though the Capitals certainly have other weapons, I think Tortorella needs to play the percentages here. Play a strong-side defensive tactic when the puck is on the left side of the offensive zone to limit Ovechkin's time and space. By doing this, you're either forcing Ovechkin to move to an area of the ice where he is lest comfortable and proficient or you are challenging the Capitals to beat you with a Mike Green or Nicklas Backstrom.
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Super excited for this series...I think Lundqvist is the best goalie in the playoffs and provided he doesn't have to endure back-to-back-to-back low-scoring 7 game series he will stop the Caps (Ovi and Green, especially - I'm thankful that Semin is on the golf course now, because he was a sneaky pain in the ass that always managed to chip in a goal at the worst possible time).
I think Hank is the best 1-on-1 goalie in the league. If he sees it, he's gonna stop it better than 9 out of 10 times, where he and the team gets burned is on the scramble. The vast majority of goals that beat him are in close tips or off the scramble. If the D-men do a good job keeping Hank's line of sight open, I'll take Hank over Green+Ovi one-timing from the circle all day.
This is gonna be an awesome series. Can't wait.
Ovi isn't stupid. He knows what it takes to beat Lundy, a lot of his shots were glove side in the playoffs last year in the PO's. Guarding him will be much harder than that, especially with no Staal, he was superb at keeping Ovi on a leash.
I can recall Ovechkin targeting Lundquist glove side quite often last year. If we keep the scoring chances at a minimum & Ovy has to shoot glove side alot we will at least contqin him. He is a great player so u can only hope to contain him & then u shut down the rest of the Caps.. Get a few timely goals & we win in 6!!!!!
Just play our style and we will win. Ovi will get his points, but as long as the Rangers just play good defense, we can't lose. Or take a match penalty and take him out of the series. That's what Hagelin is for.
i hate to sound vanilla on this, but i think we are very capable of stopping ovi. we're great at blocking shots. we have two of the greatest defenders in the league playing on our team, and we have arguably the best goalie in the league. i dont wana sound toooo over confident because ovi is a living legend as much as i hate him, but we CAN stop him and weve shown that in the past. and when it comes to their PP. i think we have a very solid PK and PK forwards such as cally and powe are a definite plus. hate to sound like a goober but im pretty confident in our team. and you cant forget that we are somewhat of a shorthanded threat on offense as well. im excited and cant wait to get the series going. bleed blue or fuck you
break his fing legs. so tired of hearing about ovie. living in DC sucks cause this is all we here. i would have the Norwegian hobbet hit , hit , and hit him some more. LETS DO THIS RANGERS
Roger that Adam, couldnt have said it any better. Cannot let Ovechkin beat us. Take my chances against Green and Backstrom. Odds of winning go up. PP needs to be a factor, if it is, we are unstoppable as we are a solid 5-5 team and are great at holding leads.
3 keys to series:
Stay out of the box.
PP needs to chip in
Jump to lead (play much better when out in front)
Danny G will be able to shut him down. Don't let ovi go around hitting anything that moves, and knock him onhis ass whenever possible. Plus we have arguably the best 1 on 1 and 2on 1 defenseman inthe league, who has made a living shutting him down, in marc staal, who I'm sure will be actively involved with girardi and mcd until he's ready to come back.
You quit treating him like a hockey God and hit the SOB, realizing that he is going to hit back. I watched Giroux of the Flyers go right after Crosby during the first shift of the first game of the playoffs last year. Threw Crosby off. The Flyers in general weren't afraid of getting in the faces of the Penguin's stars, which is why they won the series. The Rangers have to do the same. No real mystery to it.
If Sanguinetti can take out Clowe with an elbow, just have Asham take out Ovechkin with one first shift, problem solved...LOL!
Frankly I'm more concerned about the red hot Mike Green firing away uncontested shots from the point especially on the power play.
also worth noting, watch out for Troy Brouwer. In the games i've seen him in, he's one of the Caps' most effective scorers, has a good shot but is a crash-the-net player, and he ended the season really hot.
@GeorgeGrigorian I hear ya...I feel pretty good about our team also, especially with the xtra break....I think we'll b fine
Ah...Jan Erixon...."The Shadow".
@McPhee37 He likes the physical play, it gets him going. I think that's why Staal is so effective on him because he frustrates the hell out of him by using his stick and positioning with a little physical play thrown in.
@CareyBrandsdorfer Girardi isn't as quick as Ovi. He'll do well but Staal is our guy that guards Ovi the best.
@gravey94 Solves two problems as Asham would likely be suspended for the rest of the playoffs. lol
@shishya100 Honestly its all cyclical. Ovechkin is notorious for just hanging out by the faceoff dot and ripping one-times from the circle past the goalie coming across. Eventually, teams start scouting that and cheating towards him, and that leaves the point men with more room to take shots.
Not taking penalties is the best option. Clearing the front of the net so point shots can be seen abd not deflected is the second.
@shishya100 Agree. Green is almost as scary as Ovechkin on the pp. I like the idea of not taking penalties :). Also, we have some of the best shot blockers in the NHL. Just slap some goalie pads on the two forwards on the PK and we will be set :).
@McPhee37 Remember those days of shadowing the other team's best player.....just about every team did it but we had 1 of the best in Erixon (my spelling sucks lol ).....
Loved Jan Erixon!!! Always wondered how much Keenan would have loved him had he not retired after the 93 season. He was a Keenan type player Had to to believe Keenan would have given im tons of ice time considering he played Gilbert alot & Gilbert was pretty much useless that year. unfortunatly Jan retired a year too soon. He was a great defensive presence when we had him & would have been key in the ECF against Devs in 94!!!! Too bad for him he retired. He was a selfless player who deserved to be on the Cup winner!!!
""He likes the physical play""......
Yes, I know he does. And this is exactly why you want to engage him at every opportunity.
This is not some throw away regular season game....this is the playoffs. It's war of attrition time fellas. You want Ovechkin to be engaged physically....because over the course of a long series..it will drain him.
Playing a physical game of hockey is tiring..you are sore afterwards....and that's just being the aggressor and initiating the hits. You add to that the hits you take...phew...let me tell ya...it takes its toll. I think Messier said it best when asked the question.."How do you make it through the playoffs"? He responded.."Painkillers and beer."
You pound and hit and get away with everything you can against Ovechkin physically....and you try to do it every time he's on the ice. Ovechkin will respond with his own physical play....this will wear him out over the long haul.
So, you take a positive of Ovechkin's play( playing physical)....and over the course of a long series...turn it into a negative(wearing him down physically)
If the Rangers play this way against Ovechkin..by the time Game 6 and 7 roll around...back to back nights mind you....he won't have a lot left in the tank.
Ah yes....I remember the shadow days. Erixon following Lemieux all over the ice. No doubt...the best Shadow ever.
My favorite part of Erixon's game...on the PK unit. Loved watching us clear the zone....and then watch Erixon hustle down and pin the puck against the boards. And then watch two, sometimes three players trying to pry the puck from Erixon's skates......all the while the PP time ticked away.
Jan Erixon...one of the all-time Ranger greats.