There is perhaps no better compliment for an NHL scorer than a star goalie talking about how hard they are to defend. That was the praise Alex Ovechkin received from Jonathan Quick on Wednesday.
The Los Angeles Kings netminder wrote a piece Wednesday on The Players' Tribune, Derek Jeter's website for athletes, analyzing what makes some of the league's best scorers so hard for goalies to face. One of the players he focused on was Alex Ovechkin.
"Guys like Ovi shoot it so hard that it’s almost like you’re a batter in baseball," Quick wrote.
Caps fans know all about Ovechkin's signature one-timer and his blistering wrist shot, but few take the time to think about what it looks like from the other side. Quick provided a fascinating breakdown of a goal Ovechkin scored against him last season.
We played them in L.A. this season and he came down on a two-on-one rush. Ovi didn’t have the puck — he was the passing threat on my right side. He’s a right-handed shot, so he was in the perfect position for a one-timer. So I see him open up his hips, and I’m thinking, Okay, obviously he’s a huge threat right now. But he kept drifting backward to the point where he was so far wide that my brain was naturally like, There’s no way. And the guy still made the pass over to him. He must have been two feet from the wall. I took his position for granted because he was so far out, and somehow he wired it so hard that I didn’t even have a chance.
Positioning is the most critical aspect of goaltending and Quick's synopsis of Ovechkin's goal shows you why. The best shooters are simply too fast for a goalie to react in time to make a save.
"You see the blur of the puck coming at you in frames," Quick wrote. "One frame, two frames … by the third frame it’s already hitting you. If you’re trying to make a reaction save against Ovi, you’re already beat. You better already be at the top of the crease cutting off the angle."
Quick also focuses on Ryan Getzlaf/Corey Perry, Pavel Datsyuk, Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews/Patrick Kane. It is a fascinating look into the goalie's perspective and definitely worth a read.