The Washington Capitals are cycling the puck on the power play and it ends up on the stick of Alex Ovechkin, who has a little bit of daylight. This is a nightmare scenario for NHL teams, and it’s been constantly recurring since Ovie entered the league in 2005–06.
We talked to a couple of Montreal Canadiens goalies who’ve faced the high-scoring forward about his legendary shot—and how to both stop it and live through the experience.
BEN SCRIVENS: “There’s a lot of guys who can thump the puck, but the release on Ovechkin’s wrister is probably the most deadly. There are guys like Shea Weber and [Zdeno] Chara who can unload, and they can unload with “heavy” shots—where it hits you and you feel like it keeps going. [But] Ovie’s got a release that’s the hardest release, I think, in terms of the pull and snap.”
MIKE CONDON: “I’d say it’s a good and bad pain [getting hit with his shot] because at least it hit you.”
SCRIVENS: “His one-timer is obviously his bread and butter on the power play. He also has hands that go along with that. The underrated part of their power play is how well they distribute the puck to him. He’s always ready to shoot and that’s what makes him deadly. He can shoot front foot, back foot, anywhere around him; he can let it go and let it go where he wants it.”
CONDON: “His shot’s so fast and so hard that it’s often hard to see. Very few goalies make reaction saves on him. It’s more or less just positional saves. It’s about putting yourself in a position when you know he’s shooting, to take away as much as you can because it’s hard to react, because you don’t have enough time. It’s coming so fast.”
This story originally appeared as part of the How-To package in the March issue of Sportsnet magazine.