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While we all hope Alex Ovechkin got very well acquainted with Vancouver’s night life last night it’s doubtful that this rededicated team was doing anything on their days off in Van City than preparing to avenge their first taste of loss this season.
Last year Captain Alex had a tumultuous offseason, complete with the filming of his own documentary in his native Russia. It lead to a career low in points and goals and yet another disappointing playoff flop. Ovi is still listed on hockeydb.com as 6’2” and tabbed at 233Lb. which is perhaps a little more weight than the power winger should be carrying. Lucky for him driving nautical vehicles while inebriated isn’t illegal in Russia so there was no cause for an embarrassing offseason weigh in to prove it.
This offseason he still did a little cinema work fetching pig skins and doing his best Chris Angel impersonation, but he seems to have reported back in better shape and was leading on the ice during an intense Capitals training camp.
He hasn’t burst out of the gates this season with 7 points in 8 games, but that’s tied for second in team scoring behind playmaking centre Nick Backstrom. He is trailing sophomore pivot Marcus Johansen and grizzled depth forward Jason Chimera in goals and nine Caps’ currently have five or more points in just eight games this season.
Caps’ GM George McPhee was lauded by hockey pundits for his offseason retooling. He paid a heavy price to retain second line centre Brooks Laich, acquired winger Troy Bruower from the Hawks and took a very targeted approach to free agency addressing three major team needs: A – responsible depth forwards by inking Joel Ward and Jeff Halpern, B – Experienced Defense by signing Roman Hamrlik, and C – Goaltending by scoring the steal of the summer in Tomas Vokoun at just 1.5 million. On top of that, to clear room in the crease for Vokoun he flipped one of his three up-and-coming puckstops to the Avs for a 1st and 2nd rounder restocking an already strong Washington system.
Thursday night the Oilers were able to forecheck hard and draw penalties keeping some of the explosive offensive weapons in Gabbie’s arsenal off the ice. Ovi managed just over 18 minutes in ice which doesn’t seem like his usual allotment, but take in to consideration the fact that the most any one on the Caps played was a meager 23:26 by Dennis Wideman who plays in all situations. Ovi’s 18 minutes were still the highest among Cap’s forwards but a far cry from countrymen Ilya Kovalchuk who leads all forwards in ice this season with an average of 25:46 or other fellow left winger Dany Heatley at 22:45 in Minnesota. In fact the 18:11 Ovi played against the Oil was his highest in his past five games.
The Caps are a four line threat this season, a line-matching nightmare for opposing coaches, and seemingly overnight have amassed one of the deepest back-ends in the league. This early introduction as a team no longer entirely Ovi-centric may indeed be indicative of the extended work the Caps have in plan this season.
### Check this week's podcast including Canucks chat with B-Dub and preview tonight's shootout at BC Place with Lion's O-lineman Jesse Newman in Episode 3 of the Josh Statham Radio Program: http://soundcloud.com/you/tracks ###