He's still great
Sure, Sid "The Kid" Crosby's remarkable run at a Wayne Gretzky/Joe DiMaggio-like 51-game scoring streak has made it look like Alexander "The Great" Ovechkin has turned into a fourth-line checker, but let's get real.
Ovechkin has spoiled the world while averaging more than 50 goals in his first five seasons and winning the most outstanding player award two years running.
Sure, the hard-nosed Russian has only 14 goals and 42 points in 39 games while posting a plus-11. He does lead the league in shots missed and amazingly has just two power-play goals.
But Ovechkin is fourth with 126 hits, and the Caps, despite a recent eight-game slide, are 4-0-1 in their last five with Ovechkin notching goals in his last two games.
Bank on Ovechkin finishing with more goals than his coach's between-period expletives.
He fits the profile
He was in GQ.
And he didn't just appear briefly amidst the glossy opulence wearing some $479 sweater and a wrist watch worth what most of us make in two months. No, the magazine wrote a story declaring that soon even people who don't know hockey will know Ovie. Meanwhile, back in Russia, he takes two girls out at once and makes out with both, according to the profile.
Time was, GQ also tells us, that Ovechkin needed to play hockey to get away from a culture in his homeland that would have turned him into a bodyguard — or worse.
Ovechkin has made it, and he knows it. He's too good, though, not to find a new reason to go back to working with the passion that helped get him here in the first place.
Good 'D' leads to 'O'
Los Angeles Times
You mean other than having his disembodied head stuffed in a kid's school locker in those CCM skate ads that are funny yet also scary?
And becoming one of the chosen few whom the NHL markets to death, with starring roles in the Winter Classic and the HBO series leading up to the New Year's Day game?
What has happened is the Capitals' superstar is being defended more tightly. And his team has played poorly defensively much of the season.
The Capitals have tightened up defensively and have won four of their last five games. Ovechkin broke his eight-game scoring drought Monday, and if the Capitals continue to play a sound defensive game, he will get more chances.
It's a long season. Or it should be for the Capitals if Ovechkin accepts the notion that good defense will produce good offensive production.
Drop-off is stunning
For a player who is as extraordinary as they come, Alex Ovechkin's numbers are staggeringly ordinary.
Fourteen goals in 39 games? That might fly in the Edmontons and Nashvilles of the NHL world, but in the nation's capital, that doesn't quite cut it.
Ovechkin looks like the same player who never has scored fewer than 46 goals in his five-plus seasons, but there's no cape under that No. 8 sweater this season. Possibly in an effort to round out his game, Ovechkin has looked to pass more. That has helped Alexander Semin score a team-high 18 goals but hasn't given the Capitals that aura of invincibility it had last season, when it piled up 121 points to capture the Presidents' Trophy.
It will take a near-superhuman effort for Ovechkin to reach the 50-goal plateau, but Capitals fans would settle for a better-than-your-average-hockey-player level.