Alexander Ovechkin stunned the league in his rookie season back in 2005-06. Ovechkin posted 52 Goals and added 54 helpers for an incredible 106 points in his rookie campaign with the Washington Capitals. To the dismay of Crosby fans, The Great 8 earned the Calder Trophy over Sid the Kid, as
|Ovechkin’s 2004 mugshot after being Drafted 1st Overall.
Ovechkin put the entire Washington Capitals on his back, and even though the Capitals missed the playoffs, they knew greatness was soon to come. Ovechkin would follow up his astonishing rookie season with another impressive offensive season, adding 46 goals and another 46 assists. Although his sophomore season didn’t live up to what was his rookie campaign, Ovechkin would follow up with the best season of his career in 2007-08. Ovechkin netted 65 Goals, and added 47 assists for a career best 112 points and a +28. Ovechkin would lead the Capitals to a rare playoff berth. Although the Capitals would be eliminated in the first round, Capitals fans were content in the direction was headed, and with arguably the best goal scorer on the planet, why wouldn’t they be?
Ovechkin would follow up his 65 goal season with two more 50+ goal, 100+ point campaigns and was still 50/50 amongst NHL fans with being the best player on the planet opposed to Crosby. During the 2009-10 season, the NHL would take a break for the Olympic Winter Games, a tournament that many believed would set apart Crosby and Ovechkin, and determine who the better player was. Ovechkin headed into the Olympics on pace for another stellar season, in fact on pace to set new single season records for himself. However, Ovechkin only mustered up 4 points in the 4 olympic games he played, and were sent home packing after losing to Canada in the quarter-finals and finishing fourth in the tournament, failing to medal. Ovechkin still managed another 50+ goal season, but the league-best Capitals were eliminated by the underdog Monteal Canadiens behind the goaltending of former Habs netminder Jaroslav Halak. The Capitals would be sent home packing once again, failing to make it to the conference finals. This was the beginning of Ovechkin’s decline.
Ovechkin would be named captain of the Capitals to begin the 2010-11 season, and Ovechkin didn’t have the same offensive power that he did earlier in his career. Ovechkin would only muster up 32 goals for the season, nowhere near his usual offensive production. However, Ovechkin still averaged over a point per game, with 85 points in 79 games. You could tell something changed, we were used to seeing highlight reel “spinning on his back” goals almost weekly, and dramatic clutch goals to tie or win games from OV, but we
|Ovechkin during the 2011-12 season.
weren’t seeing any of it from him that year. The Capitals would once again be eliminated in the second round by the Tampa Bay Lightning, and fans around the NHL concluded that Crosby was the better player, as he had scored the gold medal winning goal in the Olympics and led the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup. Ovechkin would slump to a career low the following season, as he posted just 65 points in the 2011-12, leading to yet another 2nd round exit. Ovechkin would ditch his current sponsor, CCM, to join Bauer in hopes of improving his game. Capitals head coach and former Jack Adams winner Bruce Boudreau would be fired at the start of the next season, and a lot of fans considered it the end of the dominate Ovechkin era.
The 2012-13 season would be an odd one, as a lockout shortened the season to just 48 games. Ovechkin began the season as he did the past two seasons, rather average for his standards. It wasn’t until the later end of the season that we saw flashes of vintage OV, scoring clutch goals and making magical plays. Ovechkin would finish the season with 32 goals and 56 points in the shortened season, good enough to earn him his third Maurice Richard Trophy of his career. A lot of fans didn’t buy the statistics, as many fans believed he had to do it during a full season to really prove that the old Ovechkin was back. The 2013-14 season has rolled around, and we’re nearing the halfway point, and Ovechkin has looked as his old self. Ovechkin has 29 goals and 40 points thus far into 33 games this season, and his offensive dominance has returned to center stage for the time being. Also, congratulations to Ovechkin on his 400th goal last night, 400 in 634 is crazy, he could potentially pass Gretzky’s 894 if you think about it, if Ovechkin stays healthy and doesn’t leap to the KHL later in his career. A lot of speculation to Ovechkin’s recent success has been linked to the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Socchi, Russia. A lot of people believe Ovechkin has turned on the afterburners in hopes of winning Olympic Gold in his home country. But what if Ovechkin goes cold like he did in the 2010 Olympics? If Team Russia chokes in their home territory, how crushed will OV be? Will Ovechkin return to the OV we’ve witnessed over the past three seasons? Only time will tell.
Although Ovechkin’s numbers can’t be ignored, I’d wait until the end of this season to conclude if Ovechkin is really back on top of the hockey world. Another early exit in the playoffs and a potentially bad Olympic tournament could slow Ovechkin’s pace, and team success is what has really set apart Crosby from Ovechkin. However, if Ovechkin wins gold in Socchi, and the Capitals have success in the playoffs while Ovechkin continues to tear up the NHL’s defense, we could conclude that Ovechkin is back in consideration as the best player on the planet with Sid the Kid. But until then, I’m not calling Ovechkin’s hot start a fluke, but I’m not totally convinced that the OV of 2008 is back for good.
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