What has happened to Alex Ovechkin? That is the question you can find many Washington Capitals fans asking each other lately. What has happened to one of the greatest players in their teams history? After the 2004-05 lockout, Ovechkin came flying out of the gates, and became one of the league’s most marketable stars alongside Sidney Crosby.
Ovechkin’s first few years in the league started off with a bang. Ovie was making highlight reel goals on a consistent basis, wowing NHL fans throughout the league with his amazing shot and awesome playmaking ability. Ovechkin scored goals in ways people haven’t seen before, and with his tough hitting and non stop skating, many loved the man nicknamed “The Great 8”.
Now in 2013, things have changed mightily. Ovechkin is still a dangerous player, and in my opinion still one of the best in the world. Every time Ovechkin touches the puck to wind up for a slap shot, I hold my breath. Still, as of now, it is not good to be Ovie. The 2013 season has been tough on the Capitals, currently with a record of 10-13-1 with 21 points. Basically, the Captials chances of making the playoffs are slipping away, and the Capitals best player and captain isn’t stepping up and putting the team on his back the way he used to.
Make no mistake about it, Ovechkin still plays hard, but many feel that Ovie is coasting a lot, and doesn’t have that burning fire in him. Look at his goal totals from the past seven seasons; 52,46,65,56,50,32,38. The 38 is the number of goals Ovie scored in 2012, and while 75% of the league would take that goal total, that is low for Ovie standards. Many wonder if we have seen Ovechkin already hit his peak. He is currently 27 years old, when a player in any sport should be entering his prime. However, Ovechkin seems to have entered his prime a few years too early, and it makes one think that NHL fans have already seen Ovechkin’s best years.
Some fans in Washington are even wondering if the Capitals should trade Ovechkin. Many have been furious with his lackadaisical play, despite having a cap hit of 9.5 million eating up much of the Caps salary space. First off, some wonder if he is captain material. Before this past lockout ended, many were speculating if Ovechkin really wanted to come back, or remain in his homeland of Russia, where he could skate in the KHL for tax free money. Caps fans breathed a sigh of relief when he returned, but his play since has been uninspiring.
Yesterday, before the Rangers game Ovechkin questioned the NHL referees, saying that the refs have to give him and his team more respect. Ovechkin pointed that lately a lot of his teammates have been getting an additional two minutes for arguing a call with a ref, and that sometimes the refs are too quick to give out penalties. How did Ovechkin play against the Rangers a few hours after making his comments..by single handily winning New York the game.
The Capitals were winning 1-0 in the first when Rangers center Derek Stepan carried the puck up the ice. Ovechkin went for a big open ice hit, which Stepan avoided. A few seconds later, it was Stepan scoring the tying goal from behind the net. Capitals coach Adam Oates said after the game that Ovechkin made the wrong play and was out of position. It got worse for Ovie from there, and he did something that Rangers coach John Tortorella admitted he had never seen before, getting two penalties on one shift.
That’s right, Ovechkin was called for two different penalties during his one shift on the ice. Ovechkin first tripped Ryan Callahan to get a penalty. As the Rangers pulled the goalie on the delayed call, Ovechkin took another penalty by hauling down Ryan McDonagh, drawing a holding call. Soon after, Rangers center Brian Boyle scored to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead before Ovechkin’s first penalty had ended. With Ovie still in the box, Rick Nash slapped a nasty one timer past Braden Holtby, giving the Rangers a 3-1 lead and momentum they would never give back. Ovechkin pretty much lost the game, and some wondered if the penalties called on him were the referees way of saying “shut up and play”.
Ovechkin is still an amazing player, and it is a shame to see his play decline over the years. Capitals fans seem to be fed up with Ovechkin’s effort, and some are calling for him to lose his captaincy, or *gasp* even trade him, something unheard of a few years ago. It may be the lockout, or having his third coach in two seasons or an injury, but something just doesn’t seem right with the man once called “The Great 8”.
(Ovechkin stats so far in 2013- 24 Games played, 9 G, 11 A, 20 Points, -6)
A few years ago, many thought Ovechkin was the best player in the game, but this year, Crosby has easily distanced himself from Ovechkin and is showing he is the better player/captain.