When talking about the game's best players this season, hockey fans will hear names like Sidney Crosby, Steve Stamkos, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Martin St. Louis, Tim Thomas, Ryan Kesler, etc.
There is one key player that is not being talked about as much this season as he has been in past seasons: Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin.
This is quite a surprise given how he and Crosby are the faces of the 'new' NHL. For Ovechkin, it has been a rather unusal quiet season for someone who has 52 points (19 goals and 32 assists) in 51 games. Obviously, the glaring stat when it comes to 'Ovie' is his 19 goals. He's on pace for just 30 goals, which would be the lowest total of his career.
Fans are used to seeing Ovechkin score in excess of 50 goals a season, many of them either great shots, great dekes, great accuracy, etc. This season, however, we've seen several empty netters and goals in the slot from the Capitals' captain.
On the other side of the coin, the Capitals appear to have an even more unselfish version of Ovechkin as he has 32 assists. He has been setting up many of his teammates this season and proving to folks in the hockey world that he can do more than just score goals.
With that said, one has to wonder why he is not scoring goals like he used to. Here a few possible reasons:
- Better defensive systems implemented by opponents: Opposing teams are keying in on Ovechkin more than ever, often putting two guys on him rather than one while always making sure to know where he is on the ice. Simply put, opposing teams have cut down on the amount of open ice Ovechkin has to maneuver.
- Capitals focusing more on team defense: Head coach Bruce Boudreau has the team focusing more on its defense this season rather than its offense. Most fans will notice how they are involved in more low-scoring games. As such, the team is sacrificing their high-octane offense for better team defenese.
With all of that said, who is to say that Ovechkin just cannot flip on a switch and crank out some goals? He has apparently told members of the media that he can turn it on whenever he wants.
If that is really the case, why hasn't Ovechkin done so yet and what is he waiting for? More importantly, what has happened to the Alexander Ovechkin that all hockey fans have come to know and love with his great goal scoring prowess? Time will tell as to whether the sleeping giant will be awakened or not.
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