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Ovechkin at LW or RW? Trotz says both

Dallas Stars v Washington Capitals

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 01: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals looks at the replay after Tyler Seguin (not pictured) of the Dallas Stars scored in the first period during an NHL game at Verizon Center on April 1, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Patrick Smith

The Washington Capitals face quite a few questions in this eye-opening offseason, yet one of the more functional ones revolves around whether or not new head coach Barry Trotz opts to return Alex Ovechkin to the left wing or keep him on the right.

There seemed to been some wavering on that issue, yet Trotz provided an interesting answer (or set of answers) on Thursday. The new Caps coach essentially said he wants Ovechkin to do a little of both, but maybe lean toward his long-standing LW spot.

It’s probably too easy to look at numbers and forget context when comparing to Ovechkin as a LW vs. his work as a RW. There are tactical advantages to both ideas, yet the simple big-picture fact that he might be more comfortable on the left might just win out.

Taking a look at his shot charts makes another pro-LW argument, even if yet again, it’s easy to oversimplify such findings.

War on Ice’s shot charts show how he fared on the right with two seasons under Adam Oates:


James OBrien

Now take a look at his work in 2010-11 and 2011-12:


James OBrien

Again, plenty of factors beyond his on-ice position likely influenced that disparity, but it seems logic to at least tinker with the idea of seeing if he’ll simply excel more at LW, right?

Whatever the case may be, Washington’s offseason changes certainly grabbed the 28-year-old’s attention, as he told the Washington Post.

“Responsibility on us, is always on us,” Ovechkin said. “Coaches, trainers, the head guy [team owner Ted Leonsis] give us a wake-up call, say, listen, you have to do something, you guys have to win or you guys going to be next. I’m pretty sure this organization and the fans is tired to losing and not show exactly what we can do. That’s why we made the changes.”

No doubt, the Capitals are hoping for bigger changes on the scoreboard and in the standings.

Follow James O’Brien @cyclelikesedins