It was a week ago today that the Washington Capitals took on the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. This un-Ovechkin like performance, led to an article by Sports Illustrated’s Stu Hackel. While he does admit that he is an Alex Ovechkin fan and that his remarks are based on only watching one game this season, he shares the opinion that many hockey fans have these days. Simply put many think Ovechkin is washed up.
Many of these outside (of Washington DC) opinions have come just looking at statistics or seeing Ovechkin play once or twice. Being a fan of the Capitals and having the ability to watch every game (as I was in attendance Saturday afternoon) I have been able to watch Ovechkin’s progression in his position change. One thing the media and fans don’t usually understand is how much pressure is truly on an athlete.
Alex Ovechkin routinely goes through scoring droughts throughout the NHL season. It happens, sometimes you have it sometimes you don’t. Many of us just look at the 17 games played by the Washington Capitals this season, let’s not forget that Ovechkin played 31 games in the KHL. In those 31 games, he amassed 19 goals and 21 assists (40 points). In the current strike shortened NHL season, Ovechkin has 8 goals and 6 assists. Add those up and through 48 games he has tallied 27 goals and 27 assists (54 points). If you average out his 48 total games played in the KHL and NHL over a normal 82 game span, Ovechkin ends up with right around 46 goals and 46 assists (92 points).
Let’s then take these 92 points, plug them in versus last years NHL league leaders. The 92 points puts Alexander Ovechkin behind only 3 players (Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos and Claude Giroux). His 46 goals ranks only behind Stamkos (60) and Malkin (50), while his assists would have him tied for 18th.
Coincidentally 2 days after Hackel’s article came out, Neil Greenberg (Washington Post and ESPN) wrote an article supporting that Ovechkin isn’t washed up by comparing Gretzky’s career goal increase and decline. Alex Ovechkin is a goal scorer, they tend to peak at an early age. Many decline at different rates, but don’t think for one second Ovechkin is washed up.
Ovechkin is 2nd in the NHL in shots and most likely first in the NHL in posts/crossbars hit this season. His shot is on, the puck just hasn’t seen it’s way into the net. A lot like a baseball player in a hitting slump, it only takes one to get things going and that is what Saturday (February 23, 2013) will be for Alexander Ovechkin. He has begun to get his swagger back and for the defensmen in the NHL, watch out because Ovechkin is just getting his season started.