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04-09-2013, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Sturminator View Post
Oates knows a thing or two about passing and shooting, so there has to be a reason. My guess is that he wants to make these guys more well-rounded players by giving them more passes on the forehand. One of Kovie's problems throughout his career is that he's always played the off-wing and he's not very good on the backhand, so he's rarely in a good position to pass. He is an extremely forehand dominant player. Oates probably figures that Kovie is a good enough shooter that he can get away with shooting from the tighter angles of an on-hand wing, and will pass better from the RW, and may even develop a backhand shot out of necessity. Correct me if I'm wrong, but moving to RW has helped Kovie to pass and use his teammates more, right? I have a pretty high opinion of Oates as a young coach. I think he's a very smart man who has big things ahead of him behind the bench.
The biggest change that shifting to RW did for Kovalchuk is that (once he got used to it), he became much more effective along the boards and defensively. I don't know if everyone realizes it, but not only was the Parise-Zajac-Kovalchuk line the top scoring line of the team, but they were also deliberately matched head to head against the top lines of opponents... and went to the Cup finals that way. Kovalchuk was obviously the 3rd best member of the line defensively, but he still did his part.

I'm not sure how much it helped his passing because once the team starts to do things in the offensive zone, Kovy drifts towards LW anyway. Kovalchuk is such a frustrating player at times - he absolutely has the hands to be one of the truly elite playmakers in the league, and it's not uncommon for him to make tape-to-tape passes that defy logic - but he just doesn't have the vision to do it regularly. I've said before that if Kovy had Crosby's vision combined with his physical talents, that he'd easily be the best player in the league, but his vision is actually pretty poor for a superstar.

Anyway, back to what you asked - I think the main improvement in playing RW is that it helped make Kovalchuk a lot better defensively and along the boards, while only hurting his goal scoring a little bit. I'm honestly not sure about the passing though - but maybe you're right, in transition, Kovy is much more likely to pass to a teammate now rather than always trying to go end-to-end himself.

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