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The Play Of Ovechkin Continues To Be Questioned

from Capitals Insider at the Washington Post,

Post columnist Thomas Boswell was asked during today’s lengthy live Q&A what he thinks of Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin’s apparent “‘Good 8’ holding pattern,” as one reader put it — no longer great, not developing or adjusting.

His answer follows, and you can read the rest of the chat here.

I assume the Great Eight is gone and the good-to-very-good Ovechkin will be around a long time. Will he be good or very good?

His point-per-game totals, starting with his rookie year: 1.31, 1.12, 1.37, 1.39, 1.51, 1.08 and an awful (for him) 0.80 so far this year. He’s on a pace for 62 points. His points progression the last five years is: 112, 110, 109, 85 and now a pace for 62.

That’s just as distressing as it looks.

His body has always taken a beating. He lived very hard for several years. I assume that’s improved. The fact that GMGM would mention his weight — and give his past weights last week — is a sign that the Caps have been concerned about his conditioning at other times. Yes, the league has figured out some of his favorite moves, especially when he’s flying up the left wing.


My Take...

I’ve been a fan of AO since he entered the league but also saw all the classic warning signs too.

The commercials, the rock-star status, the huge contract, all came too quickly and has built him up to be super-human.

Well he isn’t and now only Ovechkin can change that.

No more words, action is needed now and this may not come to a head until next season.

His off-season routine will be under the microscope and if I were him, I’d be calling Gary Roberts instead of a Russian rap artist.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: alex+ovechkin



My take is that he always had so many advantages (shot, strength, explosiveness, acceleration, endurance) that he never really learned how to play a smart game.

Doesn’t know when to dump, when to carry, when to hit the late man, when to play behind the net, when to play high and when not to do these things. Doesn’t know how to create offense from the cycle. Doesn’t know what type of plays what types of defenses will be susceptible to. Doesn’t know who on the other team has to go where when his teammate loses an edge and where the hole will briefly open up.

He never had to learn these things because his advantages in all the areas I mentioned vs the guys defending him rendered this stuff moot. 3 years ago, you could play OV right and he’d still get 10 good looks (well, good looks for a dude that can score on an unscreened wrister from a foot inside the blueline) because he was so explosive and never stopped coming. Unfortunately for him, explosiveness is the first thing a player loses and endurance is 1-1 with the conditioning he’s neglected past a certain age.

Loss of explosiveness happens to everyone. Happened to Mario. Happened to Selanne. Happened to Jagr. Difference between these guys and OV is that they were and are all high-IQ players with tremendous understanding of how the play develops, so they were able to adjust. Jagr and Selanne actually got better as a result. The player who lifted a cup in Anaheim, in my view, was more effective all over the ice than the kindergarten teacher who scored 76 as a rookie.

I don’t know that OV has the hockey IQ to adjust to his new reality. Once burst ability is gone, it’s gone. If an old WaPo article is to believed, he’s too stubborn to change anything, anyway.

Posted by larry from pitt on 03/05/12 at 06:19 PM ET

blammo's avatar

Great post Larry. Totally agree.

Posted by blammo from Vancouver, BC on 03/05/12 at 08:05 PM ET

tuxedoTshirt's avatar

Well put Larry.  I might add that during his entire period of greatness he was centered by a player with very great smarts in Backstrom.  Before Ovie could fly up the wing, nine times out of ten, Backstrom had made a great play to dig out a puck and get it to him.

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 03/05/12 at 08:35 PM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

if I were him, I’d be calling Gary Roberts instead of a Russian rap artist.

Absolutely.  He is going to need to step up his off-season routine to the maximum.  I’m sure Malkin could give him some pointers on how to do so in Russia, but I imagine it would be beneficial for him to stay in DC over the summer to be near the team officials and to avoid all of the glitz and glamour he seems to enjoy when he is home in Russia.  He’s finally getting to the point where his talent isn’t enough to carry him.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Denver on 03/05/12 at 08:43 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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