Sport Ovechkin on pace for 50-goal season at age 32
Trotz credits Ovechkin's skating as reason for bounce-back season
Alex Ovechkin is moving his feet. The Washington Capitals captain is back to his old self this season, already with 23 tallies on the year and on pace to break the 50-goal barrier for the fourth time in the past five campaigThe Washington Capitals captain is back to his old self this season, already with 23 tallies on the year and on pace to break the 50-goal barrier for the fourth time in the past five campaigns.
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) Watch Alex Ovechkin closely this season and maybe you'll see what Barry Trotz sees.
''Visually, (he's) just skating,'' the Washington Capitals' coach said. ''When he's skating, he's effective. I just think he's skating better.''
Ovechkin didn't just start skating like this at age 32, but there's a noticeable burst in his step, a determination all over the ice. The result is Ovechkin leading the NHL with 26 goals at the halfway point and on pace for the eighth 50-goal season of his 13-year career.
‘No different than a married couple’: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom endure
Capitals stars’ relationship isn’t without rough patches but few tandems have accomplished more.Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom just had three days apart, a Christmas break for the Washington Capitals and the rest of the NHL. Such space is welcome and necessary because they have, essentially, shared a cubicle for more than a decade. That comes with projects worked on together. That comes with a bond that can't be broken. That comes with wanting to pull each other's hair out.
If he does it, Ovechkin would join Hockey Hall of Famers Johnny Bucyk, Bobby Hull and Phil Esposito and still-active Jaromir Jagr as the only players to score 50 goals in a season at 32 or older.
''I'm not 25 years old or 20 years old who's trying to reach that kind of milestone,'' Ovechkin said, ''but if I did it, it would be pretty sick.''
Fifty is very much in reach for the Russian superstar, who already has more even-strength goals than he did all of last season. Around the league, there's a notion that it's just Ovechkin being back to his old Ovechkin self.
''He's scoring at the top of the league, so he's doing something right,'' Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. ''He's such a dangerous threat when he touches the puck. He finds the open spots, and he doesn't need a second to get it off, so his shot's lethal.''
Ovechkin powers Capitals to 4-3 shootout win over Bruins
Alex Ovechkin made the most of a quick opportunity to make up for a shootout miss.Ovechkin scored in regulation and the tiebreaker, lifting the Washington Capitals to a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.BOX SCORE: CAPITALS 4, BRUINS 3 (SO)The 32-year-old Ovechkin missed his shootout try during Wednesday night's 1-0 loss to the New York Rangers."That's one thing that Ovie does, is that (if) he had a failure, he sort of says 'I'm going to make up for it'," Washington coach Barry Trotz said. "There was no doubt that thing was in.
Ovechkin leads the NHL in shots, just as he has in 10 of his first 12 seasons. And his 14.4 shooting percentage is the third-best of his career.
Yet inside the Capitals' locker room, players know it's more than that. Ovechkin has always had a wicked shot that has made him the best goal-scorer of this generation, so they look at his legs and feet to explain the improvement.
''He's starting to skate again, which is allowing him to create more unique offense,'' goaltender Braden Holtby said. ''He's going out there and trying to create stuff as opposed to waiting for others to create things for him. He's not just relying on his shot; he's realizing that he has more than just that to give.''
With less offensive depth this season, Ovechkin has scored 22.6 percent of the Capitals' goals - one year after his 33 goals accounted for only 12.6 percent of their scoring. Trotz sees Ovechkin with a little jump in his game more nights than last year, which is important because Washington needs it.
Stamkos voted captain as Lightning host All-Star weekend
NEW YORK — When the Tampa Bay Lightning host NHL All-Star Weekend, they'll have face of the franchise Steven Stamkos front and center. Stamkos was voted by fans as captain of the Atlantic Division team for the All-Star 3-on-3 tournament that'll take place later this month at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The league unveiled All-Star captains Wednesday night and is expected to announce the full rosters in mid-January.Stamkos has 49 points for first-place Tampa Bay and is signed for the next seven seasons. Stamkos was the No.
Last season, when the Capitals were atop the NHL, they reduced Ovechkin's ice time to prepare him for the long haul and get him in peak shape for the playoffs. They don't have that luxury this time, so Ovechkin has embraced the challenge of getting back to his high-scoring ways.
''He's obviously always passionate but it seems that he's playing with a little bit of a chip of a shoulder,'' defenseman John Carlson said. ''He's been able to create some vintage goals.''
Maybe it's the sticks. After using Bauer for the past six years, Ovechkin went back to CCM equipment prior to this season, and he scored nine goals in his first five games. There is daily interactions between Ovechkin and CCM to ensure the tools are perfect.
''For me, the most important thing is the sticks,'' Ovechkin said. ''I feel good about it, and I feel comfortable.''
One reason Ovechkin has 584 goals - second among active players to Jagr's 766 - is the custom CCM and Bauer sticks he has used. New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said the flex of Ovechkin's stick makes the winger's shot more unpredictable than others', and then you add in some natural abilities.
Report: MLB, union to discuss pace-of-play changes next week
Major League Baseball is trying to pick up its pace of play amid an abnormally slow offseason. 2 Savings Accounts Pay 10x What Your Bank Pays Learn More Sponsored by MyFinance The league and the MLB Players Association will reportedly meet in New York next week to discuss pace-of-play initiatives that would likely be put into effect on Opening Day, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.While it's possible many different proposals could be discussed at the meeting, Crasnick reports that pitch clocks and and limiting catchers' mound visits are the biggest potential changes on the docket.
''You see a lot of goalies read it wrong - a lot of his shots go through guys, not always top shelf,'' Lundqvist said. ''He's in the right place, but also he can score from a place where most guys can't. From that distance, a lot of guys can't score from there, but he can.''
Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk knows all about the difficult balance of trying to play tight on Ovechkin but not getting beat because of how quick he can get his shot off. Not only has Shattenkirk played against Ovechkin for parts of eight seasons, the defenseman also watched him play and practice when he was traded to the Capitals last season.
''If he just gets a foot of room, of space, he's able to get that shot off,'' Shattenkirk said. ''That's the hard part about him is that he'll draw you away from plays where you need to be to make good defensive plays, but if you give him too much room, when those guys find him he has the ability to score from really anywhere.''
A big part of Ovechkin's success this year is that his game hasn't just started when he touches the puck. Never needing to be a strong defensive player, Ovechkin has been hustling back down the ice to help teammates retreat and recover.
''I turned the puck over (recently) and he backchecked,'' winger Tom Wilson said. ''He was the first guy back and caused the turnover. He's playing hard right now.''
Capitals beat Canucks to win NHL-best 10th in a row at home
John Carlson, Lars Eller and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored as the Washington Capitals beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 on Tuesday night for their fifth consecutive victory and NHL-best 10th in a row at home. Stream NFL games Live wherever you are Start Free Trial Sponsored by fuboTV Backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer stopped 37 of 38 shots to pick up his third win of the season. The Capitals haven't lost at home since Nov. 30 and are 18-2-0 in their past 20 games in Washington.BOX SCORE: CAPITALS 3, CANUCKS 1Alex Ovechkin assisted on Carlson's goal to get him to four away from 500 for his career.
Ovechkin calls his scoring pace ''luck'' and pointed to shooting more often than passing. A top-line reunion with center Nicklas Backstrom around Thanksgiving also reignited the Capitals' offense, and Ovechkin is enjoying how well he and his linemates are playing as much as putting up these numbers.
''I think it's not about one guy. It's all five guys who are out there, especially our three forwards moving, passing,'' Ovechkin said. ''It's fun to play.''
Follow Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno
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Related slideshow: 2017-18 NHL season (Provided by photo services)
Taking it away
Lightning hits Leafs
Cut to the chase
A Maple Leaf forever
Bruins top Islanders
Game winning strike
Knocking on the door
Scoring the winner
Hat trick up a sleeve
Nyquist saves the day
Johnson strikes twice
Djoos it up
Panthers devour Canadiens
Well deserved victory
Predators rule Wild
Writing in Stone
Predators become prey
Ducks get past Flames
Devils rule Sabres
Hurricanes sweep off Penguins
No strike for Lightning
Chaos on ice
The winning moment
Show of skills
Battle for the edge
Saving the game
Ahead of the race
Man of the moment
Devils on fire
Giving it all
Ruling the roost
Taking it on
Battle for the puck
Running with the devil
That winning moment
Stars of the day
Going down in flames
At full stretch
VIDEO: Neymar celebrates goal by balancing shoe on his head .
The Brazilian introduced a unique new celebration after scoring in his side's Coupe de la Ligue win on Wednesday.The PSG star scored from the spot in the second half of his team's Coupe de la Ligue quarter-final tie, and proceeded to remove his boot and balance it on his head to celebrate his 20th goal of the season.
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