When looking back on the career Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has had, it’s easy to forget that he’s human. He has seven 50-goal seasons under his belt. He’s accumulated over a point-per-game in nine of his twelve seasons in the NHL (4 of those being 100 point seasons). It’s easy to look at those stats and assume he’s a Russian machine. For the most part, he’s been exactly that. This season, however, has shown everybody that Alexander Ovechkin is human after all.
What About the 2011-2012 Season?
During the 2011-2012 season, Ovechkin only put up 38 goals and 65 points in 78 games. People will point to this season as the one where Ovi’s human side came through and he hasn’t been the same player since. He has played a different style ever since, but you can’t consider that season as him “losing a step”. Early in the season, Ovi and the Caps were presented with a new coach in Dale Hunter. It was Hunter’s first (and last) time behind an NHL bench. This was an adjustment the entire team had to make. To make matters worse, Ovechkin’s partner in crime, Nicklas Backstrom, was out for half the season with an injury. Also, top offesnive-defenseman at the time, Mike Green, missed a majority of the season due to injury as well. With Ovi missing these guys for most of the season, it was tough for him to amass the crazy amount of points he had in seasons prior.
Why This Season?
It’s been an exceptional year, again, for the Capitals. With a second Presidents’ Trophy win in as many seasons, it’s safe to say they have a well-built roster. This means Ovechkin has a lot of talent around him to develop the level of his game. This is why it’s astounding that this season is the season where Ovechkin is taking a dip in his offensive contribution. He has all the tools around him to produce the way we all know he can, but he isn’t. It doesn’t add up that the year the team does well, Ovechkin slumps. Granted, he isn’t having a horrible season. This season Ovechkin had 33 goals and 36 assists, which isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just the fact that he’s Ovechkin. The Great Eight. He is this generation’s greatest goal scorer.
Why Is He Slumping?
A fair argument many make is that this is a sign of Ovechkin’s age. This could be true. He turned 31 last September and in this league that’s considered “getting up there”. Maybe he is more focused on his family life after getting married during August of last year. A main problem many have pointed out is that he has gotten lazier. This originated when the Capitals discovered they had a lethal weapon on the powerplay. Ever since Ovechkin discovered he could score almost at will, he hasn’t been his same, creative, dynamic self. He’s taken an easier route.
Why This is Okay
To some fans this is the absolute end of the world. However, if you look at how the Capitals have done this season and realized Ovechkin is still a 30-plus goal scorer, there’s not much cause for concern. He can still score, he is still a physical force, and he makes other teams’ penalty kills look like novice hockey teams. His subpar point production this season can be attributed to the fact that he’s bought into winning as a team. He’s more focused on winning games then padding his own stats. He has enough personal accolades and he’s bought in to trying to win the team awards. For Ovechkin fans, it’s disappointing to see him not rule the league the way he once did. For Capitals fans, Ovechkin’s doing this for you.