Ovechkin looks dangerous again

Alex Ovechkin is finally showing signs of improvement. (TONY CALDWELL/QMI Agency)

Alex Ovechkin is finally showing signs of improvement. (TONY CALDWELL/QMI Agency)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:31 PM ET

Anyone hoping for a blow-up between the under-whelming Alex Ovechkin and new Washington coach Dale Hunter could be disappointed.

There’s nothing to be gained by going to war, while Ovechkin is showing signs of improvement. The 51-year-old Hunter, despite a fearsome reputation as a player, has learned a few things behind the London Knights’ bench.

“Part of being a good coach is being part-psychologist,” said LeafsTV analyst Bob McGill, who has played and coached against Hunter. “At the junior level, you can intimidate kids a bit, but it’s much more difficult in the NHL, especially today. You have to get your best players — and everybody else — on the same page. They have to want to go through the wall for you and you have to earn that trust of the players. I don’t think Dale will have any trouble doing that.

“Dale has shown the past 11 years he can coach star players, because the Knights have had them every year. His brother Mark did an unbelievable job of drafting kids. And Dale has the feel of being an NHL player for 19 years.”

Hunter is asking his new team to clamp down defensively and good scoring chances will come. Ovechkin, back on the high voltage line with Alex Semin and Nicklas Backstrom, showed that Wednesday against Ottawa. He came around the net and out to the point in full stride, shook defencer Erik Karlsson, faked a slap and then went five-hole on Craig Anderson with a wrist flick.

“You have to know where he is at all times,” Toronto coach Ron Wilson warned. “Everyone knows what his tendencies are. We have to try and take away the areas he likes to go to. When he drives down the wing, he likes to cut into the middle through defencemen. But you’re constantly worried that when he’s on the ice, he can explode every time.”

lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca


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