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The New Ovechkin

In the first half of last season there was open speculation about whether or not Alexander Ovechkin's best days were over.  He was off to a relatively slow start.  Things turned around and he finished with the NHL goal scoring lead and won his third Hart Trophy.  I argue it was a poor choice, but it wasn't a totally off the wall selection.  This year he is again leading the NHL in goals.  With four goals scored today, he is up to 26 goals on the season.  The problem is none of his numbers other than goals are as impressive. 

Ovechkin only has nine assists on the season.  This is good enough to put him in sixth place on his team tied with Martin Erat.  His -10 +/- rating is a team worst.  His once dominant Corsi numbers are long gone.  In short, Ovechkin has abandoned several parts of his all-around game to concentrate on goal scoring.  He is very good at goal scoring, as his league leading totals show, but he would be a more valuable player to his team if he played a more well-rounded game and let his goal totals fall a bit.

Washington has fallen in the standings from the days when Ovechkin was a better all-around player.  There were coaching casualties in Bruce Boudreau and Dale Hunter as these coaches tried to keep their star player in a two-way game when he wanted to concentrate on goal scoring.  It is true that Washington had a strong second half last season after Adam Oates gave up on that fight and let Ovechkin play his game, but I think that most of that credit goes to his Washington teammates.

Alexander Ovechkin may be a great goal scorer today, but he is playing a very soft defensive game.  He is significantly less valuable than five or six years ago when he was an MVP-level talent.  Given his reputation and his past and his goal scoring level, he will get some MVP consideration, but he shouldn't be in the top ten MVP contenders based on his play so far this season.  The Alexander Ovechkin we saw a couple years ago playing a more complete game was more valuable to his team.  Today's Ovechkin who is scoring goals at a higher rate is not the same Ovechkin we saw in 2008.  He is a far more one-dimensional player.

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Comments

Hank1974's avatar

You can’t also look past the fact that out of his 9 assists, 8 are on the PP.
So he only has ONE even-strength assist.
And this is a Hart winner? He’s only setup ONE goal while playing 5-on-5?

And let’s face it. 100% of his assists are off of rebounds.

Ovie is a selfish player. He loves to score goals and nothing else.
He’d rather score 70 and not make the playoffs than score 30 and win the Cup.

Posted by Hank1974 on 12/11/13 at 07:40 AM ET

Matthew Tate's avatar

I have to assume you are being facetious about 100% of his assists are on rebounds, as that is just false.

And to call Ovechkin selfish is to say that what he is doing is against the wishes of the coaching staff.  How is it that a player is selfish if a coach is telling them to shoot more?

Posted by Matthew Tate on 12/11/13 at 10:02 AM ET

Hank1974's avatar

Matthew Tate, just look at his demeanor in last years playoffs.
They were actually winning games and he was miserable because he wasn’t scoring goals and he wasn’t ‘the man’. He even got sat because of his poor work ethic and defensive coverage.

That’s why I think he’s selfish and why he’d pick being a 70-goal scorer over a SC winner any day of the year.

Posted by Hank1974 on 12/11/13 at 11:24 AM ET

Avatar

I get that this is an opinion piece and if you aren’t a Capitals fan then you probably aren’t privy to everything that goes on around the team.  However, this is such a hilariously uninformed post I feel compelled to comment.

Ovechkin only has nine assists on the season.

This is true and I find it baffling.  However, he does play predominantly with two guys (Backstrom and Johansson) who combined average less than 2 shots on goal a game.  Maybe his assists are somewhat tied to what his teammates do with the puck once they get it?

His -10 +/- rating is a team worst.

You can find plenty of articles about why +/- is a terrible stat, but sure this is true.

His once dominant Corsi numbers are long gone.

Sure, Ovechkin was a Corsi beast early in his career and his overall Corsi numbers are down, but looking at Behind The Net his Corsi is up this season from the previous two.

In short, Ovechkin has abandoned several parts of his all-around game to concentrate on goal scoring.

Huh?  At no point ever, in the history of the Alex Ovechkin narrative, has he been considered a two-way player with an all-around game.  Under Boudreau, the Caps played an offense first, run-and-gun system until the last season or so of his tenure.  Ovechkin has always been a goal scorer first and foremost.  The criticism towards Ovechkin has always been that he needs to be a better all-around player.  I seriously have no idea what your basing this on….

Washington has fallen in the standings from the days when Ovechkin was a better all-around player.

Nope.  The team isn’t as good as it once was.  But whatever you need to tell yourself to spin your little narrative against the guy.

There were coaching casualties in Bruce Boudreau and Dale Hunter…

Certainly true for Boudreau as he was fired, but Hunter was a somewhat unique situation.  He came in after Boudreau was fired, only signed a one year contract, then left immediately after the Caps were eliminated from the playoffs to return to his junior team, the London Knights.  I interpret that as Hunter doing McPhee a solid and coaching the team until a full time replacement could be found in the offseason.

as these coaches tried to keep their star player in a two-way game when he wanted to concentrate on goal scoring.

Can you cite any reference to back this up?  No, you can’t.  Boudreau was fired because the team was scuffling and Hunter left after his contract was up not because Ovechkin morphed into a goal scoring crack addict.

It is true that Washington had a strong second half last season after Adam Oates gave up on that fight and let Ovechkin play his game…

Ok, I get it now.  You just dislike Ovechkin and this sad excuse of a post is an exercise in shitting on him.  Let’s review what actually happened last season.  Oates wanted Ovechkin to move to RW.  Ovechkin resisted.  Oates said fine, play LW but your linemates will be 4th line pluggers Jay Beagle and Aaron Volpatti.  Ovechkin relents, switches to RW, takes to Oates coaching and has a strong finish to the season (that has continued into this year).  Ovechkin has heavily credited Oates’ coaching for his uptick in goal scoring.  But keep spin, spin, spinning your narrative.  Fact based arguements are clearly not your forte.

He is significantly less valuable than five or six years ago when he was an MVP-level talent.

Yep, there’s significantly less value in scoring 26 goals in 29 games.  It’s a well known FACT that NHL teams loathe having a player that scores at nearly a goal per game.  There are certainly valid criticisms that can be levied at any player.  But to say Ovechkin has transformed from an all-around player to a goal seeking robot that is destroying his team is asinine.  No point in covering the final vomit inducing paragraph of your post as it’s just as worthless as the preceeding three.

Posted by Perreault my boat on 12/11/13 at 12:12 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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