Ten games into last season, Alex Ovechkin had two goals, three assists, 35 shots and was begging Adam Oates to move him back to left wing. Ten games into this season, the Caps’ 28-year-old captain has a league-high 10 goals, five assists, a league-high 67 shots and is looking like he’s played right wing for his entire life. OK, scratch that last one. “There's still lots of room for him to grow,” Oates told the Edmonton Journal before Ovechkin led the Caps to a 4-1 win that evened their record at 5-5-0. “He did things 23 years of his life one way." That way went something like this: Rumble down the left wing, cut to the middle and rip the hardest shot known to man from the left circle. In his first five seasons in the NHL that was enough to net Ovechkin 269 goals in 396 games. But then something terrible happened. NHL defensemen began setting up road blocks in that left circle. Goaltenders started cheating and making saves. Ovechkin kept shooting, but many of those shots were getting blocked, deflected or sailing wide of the net. In 2010-11, Ovechkin’s goal totals dropped from 50 to a career-low 32. His point totals from 109 to 85. His shooting percentage from 13.6 to 8.7. The following year, other parts of Ovechkin’s game showed cracks. His goal totals increased to 38 but his point totals dropped from 85 to a career-low 65 and his plus-minus plummeted from plus-24 to minus-8.
Inside the reinvention of Alex Ovechkin
CSN Washington | Oct 26