Above is a highlight video from Alexander Ovechkin’s time in the KHL during the latest NHL lockout, in which he racked up 40 points in 31 games, including 19 goals. One thing you may notice, is that a good number of goals are reminiscent of Ovy during his goal-scoring prime in North America, which is to say, one-timers from the top of the circle, and shooting the puck through d-men off the rush.

One of the reasons Ovy’s goal totals have diminshed – and don’t kid yourself, it’s a legit reason – is that people have better learned to defend his tendencies. If a guy can’t dribble with his left hand, you drive him to the left. Just getting in that shooting lane when you’re in d-zone coverage, and getting stick-on-stick on his rushes led to some of his frustration in the NHL – when he went to the well again in the K, he scored more.

That’s a long lead-in to the question…could this happen to Steven Stamkos soon? Or rather, shouldn’t it? Goalies should be more aware of his presence during powerplays, and make a conscious effort to get over quicker on his shots at this point. Forwards should better take away that passing lane. D-men should better stay in that shooting lane.

Coaches know this stuff, and I think the defending Rocket Richard winner could possibly have a tougher time scoring in the next year or two.

Stamkos can score in a variety ways – I’d argue more than Ovechkin – but I’m curious to see how he adjusts not if, but when teams start to better defend his Thor’s Hammer of a one-timer, because that day is coming, and it’s coming soon.

Good goal-scorers have the skills to put pucks in the net. Great ones, like Mike Bossy for example, are able to find new ways to score when the old ways are better defended. I think this season will tell us a lot about which category Stamkos ends up in.

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Update:

Comments (14)

  1. I would say most teams have. Having watched every NHL game he has played in you can see how teams try to take away his shot on the PP. The pass from Marty to Stammer is so well telegraphed that teams from next week see it coming. In his first three years roughly 40% of his goals came off of the PP, last year it was down to 20%. And almost every one of his even strength goals was from a different area. They took away his power play shot, and he has responded.

    • I agree. His first couple of years he seemed to score a LOT of goals on that off wing PP one timer. Last year I saw a lot more highlights of him scoring from all over the place. Maybe the difference between the two is a high enough hockey IQ to be able to adjust for Stamkos while Ovechkin is just more a pure talent player and hope it always works over and over.

  2. The think is, Ovechkin doesn’t need to change his game, or his role on the ice. He clearly doesn’t need to listen to his coaches. Furthermore, the guy doesn’t need to train hard or even work out in the offseason either because he’ll always be the best goalscorer in the wor…oh waitaminit

  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YimRmMapl9s

    Here’s all the goals Stamkos scored last season. Stammy circle one timers aside, he’s actually been extremely versatile.

    • And actually Tampa has learned how to deploy his one-timer in situations other than powerplay give n’ goes with St. Louis. He’s got nuance, y’see ;)

    • Impressive. That is one heck of a talented player, who has some amazing tricks in his arsenal, is naturally gifted at the game, AND can adapt to opposing teams learning his moves.

      Stamkos doesn’t get enough attention, being way down in Florida.

  4. didn’t they kinda figure him out the year before last, and then he changed his game up a bit… i remember most of his goals came from the same spot, then that number started to go down… but his goals didn’t, he just got a little more diverse… i wouls assume that will continue

  5. I’m a die hard Lightning fan, season ticket holder since the barn, and can probably count how many games I’ve missed using only my ten fingers.

    I can tell you right now, the 2010-2011 Stamkos was a totally different kind of beast in 2011-2012. Even on the power play he was re-positioned. Lecavalier was taking the one timer on the opposite side circle last year and Stamkos was either at the point, or in several cases, actually playing in front of the goalie. Watch the highlight real and you’ll see him getting a few deflections and rebounds coming off of shots from the point. That isn’t to say there wasn’t the occasional setup with him on the left circle, but it didn’t occur nearly as much. That said, the Lightning 4 on 3 and 5 on 3 power play was horrendous last season when previously in 2010-2011 it was the best in the league. Some would attribute this to moving Stamkos around. Personally, I think this was just an effect of not having Wayne Fleming on the bench or at special teams practice.

    Anyways, as a person who has closely watched Stamkos, he was also a lot bigger last year. You could see it both in the warm ups and in his willingness on the boards and in the low slot. They say he only gained 20 or so pounds, but it must have been sheer muscle because he looked about 60 pounds bigger from 2010 to 2012. He was scrawny in 2010 and St. Loius started working with him at Gary Robert’s new training facility, and he absolutely got massive.

    Speaking of St. Louis, have you ever seen his thighs? I am not joking when I say each one of his thighs are about 28″. That’s not an exaggeration, his thigh is about width of a lot of people’s waist. They’re like tree trunks. People always wonder how he has been able to have success being such a small dude in a commonly perceived big man’s game…his lower body strength challenges that of anyone in this league’s history.

    And BTW, any center who has played with St. Louis in Tampa Bay has had incredible success. Just ask V. Lecavalier, B. Richards, or S. Stamkos. To me Ovechkin was about figuring out Ovechkin; he’s bar none the best individual goal scorer in the league. With Stamkos it’s more about figuring out St. Louis than it is Stamkos. St. Louis has been ponying up 50 goal scoring centers for a decade.

    BIG DIFFERENCE.

    • True – Good observation. Marty St Louis is a virtual dream of a set-up man – And Boucher isn’t afraid to double-shift him regularly. No doubt that Stamkos has benefited greatly (both on-ice, and in his development) from this pairing.

    • “any center who has played with St. Louis in Tampa Bay has had incredible success.”

      Reminds me of Henrik Sedin. He and Daniel have had some fairly no-name players (Trent Klatt or Anson Carter, anyone?)as linemates, and those guys had really good seasons on their line. He’s an asisst-machine.

  6. We might be talking apples and oranges – Ovechkin is what one might call a “bulk shooter”; firing relentlessly (his number of shots per year are, by today’s standards, astronomical.) He’s a “bull-rush” type of scorer.

    Stamkos had the highest shooting-percentage in the league, last season (or, at least top-two) – He’s definitely the more effective scorer, with less tries. His instincts around the paint, for rebound, back-door and deflection opportunities, coupled with his quick hands, make him the more unstoppable of the two.

    One would have to shadow him obsessively (in the old-school sense of dedicating a single player with comparable skating skills to harass him all night, every night) to effect a possible downturn in his scoring – Something unlikely and grossly impractical, in that it would tie-up a comparable scorer in an extreme defensive-capacity (or, require the line-match to include a “non-scorer” – Thus handicapping the opposition’s scoring-chances, should the play flow toward the Tampa zone.)

    He’s simply a better “pure scorer” than Ovie – His hand-eye coordination is astonishing. His wrist-shot is pinpoint. And his ability to “spy and sneak” on any given play, are greater than Ovechkin’s. He’s developing a better “nose” for the net.

    Stamkos promises a “Sakic-like” consistency, with a greater “toolbox”.

    Also. Inasmuch as one would like to give credit to opposing teams, for their adjustments leading to a stifling of Ovechkin’s scoring-potential, one should also appreciate that Ovie’s “fun and gun” was profoundly squelched by his own coaches (Bourdreau and Hunter) in an effort to mold him into something more suitable for their two-way systems.

    And that might be the more telling takeaway from such a conversation.

    My two, anyhow.

  7. As others have said, this sort of already happened.

    Every so often, some D will have a moment of carelessness and he’ll rotate to that left circle, yell his name, get a pass and blow one by the goaltender, but the seam for that pass usually isn’t there, so Stamkos doesn’t post up in his favorite spot that much anymore.

    He’s not going to any particular area on the ice to shoot now, just jumping into any holes he sees, getting in position to deflect pucks and crashing the crease for rebounds. Bad news for goalies is there’s no foolproof way to counter any of that. Good old fashioned coach goals he’s scoring now.

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