There has been plenty of discussion about Alexander Ovechkin not scoring at the same pace as in past years and the Washington Capitals not being the dominant regular season team that fans have come to expect.
Last season, the Caps averaged 3.88 goals per game while giving up 2.81 in route to a 121 point season when they won the division by 38 points. In spite of the regular season dominance, they made an early first round playoff exit at the hands of Montreal.
This season, the Capitals, as a team, have changed their strategy from being a free-wheeling, wide open offensive team to one that is more defensive minded. They currently average 2.66 goals per game while giving up 2.49 and are in a dogfight with Tampa Bay for the division lead and are on pace for 102 points.
Alexander Ovechkin has had a down turn in his offensive numbers this season that is as dramatic as the team's numbers. In five full seasons, Ovie has averaged 53.8 goals per season. This year he has 25 goals which puts him on pace for 31 for the season.
He has also averaged 52 assists per year and with 44 this season is on pace for 54 this season so this is on par with what would be expected.
The most telling discrepancy is in shooting percentage where Ovechkin is having an off year any way you look at it. Currently, Alex is shooting at an 8% pace while historically he has averaged 12.5%.
His shot count for this year is also on pace to be 382 which is less than his career average of 432 which would be expected in a less offensive team system.
So on paper, these numbers would explain Ovechkin's downturn in goal production this season.
On the ice, Alexander Ovechkin is still making the highlight reel shots that we have come to enjoy each night on NHL on the Fly.
Last night, Ovie faked Dwayne Roloson out of his jock as well as the rest of his equipment too, in what ended up being the game winner in the shootout in the Caps game in Tampa.
Last Tuesday, against the Islanders, Ovechkin has similar success with an overtime winner.
My bet is that when the playoffs come, Alexander Ovechkin will produce better numbers and more highlight quality clips and that the Capitals will have more success than they did last season. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass