Washington Capitals: Will Alex Ovechkin Return to Triple-Digit Point Totals?
Assuming a season where the Washington Capitals only play 40 games, the answer to this question is obvious. Alex Ovechkin is good, but he's not that good. Rather I'm speculating about Ovechkin's effectiveness in 2013-2014, which, barring injury, would be the next 82-game season we will see him playing in.
There's no denying the potential of the Capitals left winger. Of the seven seasons he's played in, he's topped 90 points five times, with four of those seasons eclipsing the 100-point mark. However, his production in recent years has seen a bit of a decline by his own standards.
Ovechkin's Own Standards
Where will Ovechkin finish in terms of point totals in 2013-2014?
It's true he's set the bar high with such dominant early seasons and that should be taken into consideration, since even the greatest players can't always duplicate success from year to year. Yet, Ovechkin's point totals have quietly been dropping every year since the 2007-2008 season, going from 112 and settling at 65.
This doesn't mean Ovechkin is losing his touch, but it does seem as if teams have gotten better at defending him, thereby curbing his production. It's worth noting that Ovechkin's drop in numbers has more or less coincided with Washington's decline in the standings over the years, going from Presidents Trophy favorites, to fighting for the Eastern Conference's eighth seed.
While it's hard to pinpoint exactly where the Capitals have faltered in recent years, Ovechkin's career low 65-point season was marked by the absence of both Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom for more than half the season. Without these two players in the lineup, there's no question that Ovechkin has a more difficult task of putting up points.
Now without the services of Alexander Semin, who was signed by the Carolina Hurricanes, Ovechkin will need to rely all the more on the support he gets from players like Backstrom and Green. While he's more than capable of being a one-man show, 70-plus games from Ovechkin's supporting cast can make him a 90-point player, which is crucial to the success of Washington's season.
Having that support also gives opposing teams something to worry about aside from Ovechkin himself and forces them to focus their defensive resources on other players.
Without Semin, it's difficult to envision the Capitals as the offensive juggernaut they once were, and it's also difficult to discern weather or not they'll have enough firepower to push Ovechkin back to the 100-point mark. Semin was a big piece of their offense, and unless Wojtek Wolski can pickup some of those points, the Capitals will have some ground to make up.
That doesn't mean that Ovechkin will continue to lower the bar. His scoring ability last year was uncharacteristically lackluster, thus it's reasonable to speculate that he'll improve on that mark, while probably falling short of triple-digit point totals.
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