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At the Rink blog

Ovechkin moving back to left wing for Capitals

Friday, 01.25.2013 / 5:42 PM

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer / 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

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2012-2013 At the Rink blog
Ovechkin moving back to left wing for Capitals

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Alex Ovechkin at right wing experiment is on hold for the moment. The Washington Capitals superstar said he is moving back to the left wing for Friday's game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.

Ovechkin has lined up on the right side in each of the first three games, but he shifted to the left side in the third period of Thursday's 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

The Capitals are 0-3 and Ovechkin has not scored this season.

"We'll see how it goes," Ovechkin said prior to the game. "It doesn't matter if I'm going to play left side, center or right side; we just have to play the system that [coach Adam Oates] tells us. We just have to be mentally ready. It's not about one player or two players, it's everybody."

Ovechkin said he spoke with Oates about moving back to the left side, where he has played his entire career up until now.

"Of course I feel much more comfortable on the left side; it's not a secret," Ovechkin said. "But, again, creativity, what we try to do, it's working but we have to work harder, I think."

Oates said he doesn't see the pressure to score getting to Ovechkin, at least not yet, but he knows it is there and perhaps this move back to the left wing will give the Capitals' captain a sense of comfort heading into the game.

"He has that pressure [to score] every night," Oates said. "He comes to the rink expecting to do that and he's done it his entire career. That never changes and it never will. In saying that, he's gotta play his game and be part of the team and the structure, and hopefully over time he'll have success."

Ovechkin said he was OK with playing on the right side, but clearly it has not worked as of yet.

"I feel responsible for the opportunities we have and I have to find the space in the offensive zone," Ovechkin said. "My linemates have to play better. I have to play better. It starts with me and it goes to everybody."

Oates confirmed that Michal Neuvirth will get the start in net for the Capitals after giving up four goals on 22 shots in Thursday's loss to the Canadiens.

Neuvirth is 4-1-2 with one shutout, a 1.95 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in seven career starts against New Jersey. He is 5-2-1 in the second game when he starts two nights in a row.

"He played really well [Thursday] night and I felt bad for him that we let it get away," Oates said. "I thought he really gave us a chance in the first 30 minutes and he looked very sharp, so he gets it tonight."

For Oates, Friday's game is a mini-homecoming. He was an assistant on Devils coach Peter DeBoer's staff last season and said walking back into Prudential Center brings back great memories of New Jersey's run to the Stanley Cup Final, which they lost to the Los Angeles Kings.

"It was a great year, a great run," Oates said. "We got very close and when you go through that as a staff you get closer. You get closer to with the players. I got to be here for two years. It was a great feeling. It will be great to see the guys, but obviously I'd like to get the win."

Wojtek Wolski - Nicklas Backstrom - Troy Brouwer

Alex Ovechkin - Jay Beagle - Joey Crabb

Jason Chimera - Mike Ribeiro - Joel Ward

Matt Hendricks - Marcus Johansson - Eric Fehr

Karl Alzner - Mike Green

John Erskine - John Carlson

Jeff Schultz - Tomas Kundratek

Michal Neuvirth

Braden Holtby

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Quote of the Day

It's really exciting. I'm pretty sure that when I play my first game I'm going to be emotional. To be back on the ice playing a game, being in game situations, with all the routines and rituals I do before games and during the game, I feel like I'm going to be emotional. I'm going to be really happy.

— Montreal Canadiens forward Tim Bozon on playing for the first time since his life-threaning illness