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Ovi accentuating playmaking skills

by Dan Rosen
PITTSBURGH -- What's with this zero on the score sheet under shots on goal for Alex Ovechkin from Tuesday night's game against Detroit? Has to be a misprint, right?

Ovechkin thinks so.

"Actually I had one shot, and they took it away," the Capitals' superstar argued Thursday morning from Mellon Arena, where Washington takes on Pittsburgh for the first time this season (7:30 p.m. ET, NHL Network-U.S.). "So, I was kind of surprised. I thought, finally, I have one shot on goal. It was in the third period after they took a penalty."

Nevertheless, it was the first time since the Capitals faced the Islanders on Oct. 8, 2007 that Ovechkin was held without a shot on goal. He has only 13 shots over the last five games, a miniscule number for a guy who is averaging more than twice that per game both this season and for his career.

On the flip side, Ovechkin has 8 assists over the past five games and 35 this season. He's on pace to have more assists than goals for the first time since his rookie season of 2005-06. And, Nicklas Backstrom, the center on his line, already has 20 goals, matching his career high.

So, is Ovechkin looking to pass more than he is looking to shoot these days?

"I think on a whole he hasn't been taking as many shots as normal," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau admitted.
32 Goals 30
31 Assists 35
63 Points 65
12 Plus/Minus 27
47 Penalty Minutes
8 Power Play Goals


Ovechkin joked that he's passing more because he's out to prove something.

"If I have a chance to pass it, why not?" he said. "I want to show people I can pass the puck, too."

Maybe so, but he's not fooling anybody, least of all tonight's opponent.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said he read the stories about the Capitals' 3-2 win over the Wings before watching the game, and just assumed that Ovechkin didn't have any shots because he wasn't getting chances or he was passing up on some good chances. He found out that wasn't true at all.

"But, he got them and they were good chances to score," Bylsma said. "They just didn't get on net or they got blocked."

Ovechkin was credited for six attempts at the net, though four were blocked and another two missed entirely.

"I didn't see him passing up any opportunities," Bylsma added. "He had his chances for sure."

Boudreau brushed off Ovi's shotless night as if it was nothing.

"He had shots, just none hit the net," he said. "He wasn't very accurate last game. That's going to happen. Every streak has to come to an end at some point."

Considering Ovechkin leads the League in shots on goal since the work stoppage (2,000 in 365 games), it's hard to figure why he would now all of a sudden become somewhat passive.

But, if he is, could that make the Capitals even more dangerous than they already are on offense? They already lead the NHL with 3.69 goals per game and are the only team to have 10 guys with at least 10 goals.

"It certainly has the ability to make that, but I think everybody still converges on him," Boudreau said.

And, they will continue to do so, but if Ovechkin's vision with the pass becomes half as lethal as his power with the shot, well, the word scary comes to mind.

"Sometimes different teams give attention to one player or two players and right now they don't know who is going to score for us," Ovechkin said. "That's good."

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