GR8 Decline: What's Wrong with Alexander Ovechkin?

Ramy EljawharyContributor IIMarch 3, 2012

VANCOUVER, CANADA - OCTOBER 29: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals celebrates after scoring a goal while Keith Ballard #4 of the Vancouver Canucks  skates past during the first period in NHL action on October 29, 2011 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

Numbers don’t lie, they tell us the truth, and the truth is that Alexander Ovechkin’s 663 points in 535 games tell us that he’s been dominant since entering the NHL.

In his first five seasons, he scored over 100 points four times.  Last year he registered 85, which was the fewest of his career and a significant drop off from his three previous campaigns.   

This season he has 26 goals and 23 assists in 60 games, which has him on pace for roughly 65 points: 20 fewer than last year, and 37 less than the 102 he averaged entering this season.

Could he be playing through an injury?  If he was banged up, then his withdrawal from the All-Star game and his three-game suspension that sandwiched the All-Star break should have provided him with adequate rest to heal any lingering injuries that he may have been playing through.

Is he motivated?  Ovechkin is a fierce competitor and would love nothing more than to win a Stanley Cup, so it is unlikely that motivation is the issue. 

A look at his SOG totals may provide an important clue into his declining numbers.  Since his debut, he has had seasons of 425, 392, 446, 528, 368, 367, and is on pace for less than 300 shots this year.   

Perhaps the only thing wrong is that he needs to start peppering the opposition more often.  Shooting more creates more rebounds, and leads to more scoring chances.  

With 18 games to go, the Washington Capitals need him to bring his game to another level; otherwise, their playoff hopes could be in jeopardy. 

Your thoughts: Why has Alexander Ovechkin struggled this season?