In 2001, Ovechkin made his professional debut with Dynamo Moscow at the age of 16. He played with the club for four seasons and helped lead it to a title during the last NHL lockout. "The Great Eight," who actually wears No. 32 for Dynamo, returned to his former team on Thursday, Sept. 20.
During the game, Ovechkin played with a fire that Caps fans wish they saw more often. The star winger landed a brutal hit on Dynamo Minsk's Libor Pivko.
Ovechkin's scoring numbers dropped under the defensive initiatives implemented by Bruce Boudreau and Dale Hunter. As one of the best playmakers in the history of hockey, new head coach Adam Oates has a different understanding of the importance of a winger. He won't hold Ovechkin to the same defensive standards that Boudreau and Hunter have in the past.
Even so, the aggressive style Ovechkin played with Thursday has its place in the Caps' game style. In the clip below, Ovechkin's backcheck was crucial in helping his team recover from a turnover. While Ovechkin isn't the most defensive-oriented player on the Caps roster, his aggressive backcheck could be useful.
Other than honing his aggressive play, Ovechkin should regain some confidence he's surely lost over the past few seasons. His declining scoring totals must be contributing to his lackluster play. Hopefully, he can regain the flair that made him the league MVP in 2008 and 2009.
If anything, spending some time in the KHL will keep Ovechkin sharp during the work stoppage. Caps fans would love to see their superstar player return after the lockout and put up numbers similar to those that made him one of the NHL's biggest draws.