Why Alex Ovechkin will score 25 Power Play Goals this Season
Players in the sin bin should feel lucky to serve a full 2 minutes when the Caps are in town. Last season, Washington scored 44 power play goals in 48 games at a clip of 26.8%. 16 of the aforementioned tallies came from none other than the Great 8, Mr. Alexander Ovechkin. Say what you will about his playing style or attitude, but there is no knocking his ability to finish while man-up. From a fantasy hockey perspective, Ovechkin is a can’t miss player. Half of his 32 goals last year came with a man advantage. He alone can carry the weight of your PPG stat category during a down week. Ovie is the beneficiary of Adam Oates’ 1-3-1 system. Here is a closer look at how exactly this system works, and why Ovechkin will become the 30th player ever to score 25 power play goals in a season.
Unrelated, but here is an awesome Adam Oates NHL commercial
The basic set up of the 1-3-1 can be seen on the right. The point man is usually Mike Green, with Backstrom along the right half wall, and Troy Brouwer and Marcus Johansson in the high and low slot respectively. The man in focus, Ovechkin, was tactfully given the red highlighter treatment by yours truly. Mike Ribeiro got some time with this unit toward the end of the season, but he has since set sail to Phoenix (safe travels). Assuming Johansson can reach a contract agreement with the Caps in the near future, the band will be back together this season. Chemistry is as important to this power play as Ovechkin’s one-timer.
Most of the Capitals’ power play goals last season began with movement of the puck between Green and Backstrom along the far wall. This action draws the attention of the left D-man down low and one forward high atop your usual “box” penalty killing formation. Keeping Johansson near the top of the slot forces the second forward to pinch into the top of the box formation. With both forwards shifted toward the middle, Ovechkin as the pseudo-point man is allowed to slide down into that all too comfortable location by the left wing face-off dot. All it takes from that location is one touch pass form Green and the patented Ovie one timer to put the Caps on the board. Shall we take a look?
Here is a one-timer (who knew) from Ovechkin against the Buffalo Sabres from January 2013. The initial set up is exactly what Washington is looking for: possession low to high, drawing attention from both a defenseman and a forward.
C’mon Sabres, 4 out of 4 penalty killers puck watching? You guys are making this post too easy!
This still shot is the most indicative of what Adam Oates wants to see with the 1-3-1. Good play down low has created the black dotted passing lane up to the point man. Backstrom occupied some real estate at the top of the point, then slides down to the “X” to allow Green to artfully slide toward the middle of the ice. It would be remiss of me not to mention Green’s fluidity as a puck carrier. His mobility is just as an unspoken yet critical asset of this PP unit.
Anddddd here is the kill shot. Backstrom is parked allowing Green to slide the puck to Ovechkin. Miller is forced to slide post to post and he can only pray to get his blocker hand up. When you have a player as physically gifted as Ovechkin, the burden falls on the coaching staff to find ways to maximize his abilities. It is safe to say that Oates and company have found the right pieces to their power play puzzle. With that, I’ll conclude by saying this goal will happen exactly the same way at least 17 times this year. That leaves 8 goals for Alex to get creative with on his way to 25 PPG this year.