Maybe it will take an Alex Ovechkin autobiography for all of us to figure out what truly happened to his game for the better part of 2010-12. The Great 8 comes to Rogers Arena Monday night with the Washington Capitals to take on the Vancouver Canucks in the midst of the best start of his NHL career, with 10 goals in 11 games. Put that it together with the way he ended last year, and Ovechkin has 32 goals in his past 32 regular season encounters. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last player to score more than 30 times in 30 regular season contests was former Canuck Pavel Bure, who pulled it off over two seasons in 2001 while playing for the Florida Panthers. Numbers wise, this Ovechkin, who just turned 28 years of age, matches up with the Ovechkin who averaged 54 goals his first five years in the NHL. He doesn’t mesh with the guy who was wearing his jersey and scored 32 goals for the Capitals in 2010-11 and then 38 the following year. That guy put up 65 points in 2011-12, which was good enough for 37th in league scoring. That was in the Valtterri Filppula, Max Pacioretty and Teddy Purcell neighbourhood of the NHL points list that season. Don’t get us wrong, those are all solid players. They just haven’t ended up in too many paragraphs alongside Ovechkin. Those guys didn’t sign a 13-year, $124-million contract in January, 2008. Ovechkin was duelling Sidney Crosby for greatest player in the world for five seasons. He finished last season in such a fashion that he won his third Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player and he’s started this campaign in such a way that people are talking about him being a 50-goal, 50-game man if the 2014 Sochi Olympics and his role with the event don’t intervene. In between those periods, columnists like Bruce Arthur were writing things like, “He’s still in there, somewhere. If only he could let himself out,” in a Dec. 1, 2011, Province story with with headline, “What is it with Alex Ovechkin?” In Calgary, prior to the Flames up-ending the Capitals by a 5-2 count on Saturday, Ovechkin told reporters: “I feel comfortable right now. When you feel comfortable, it’s easy to play and easy to do some work.” You have to wonder if it’s really that simple. Maybe Vancouver 2010 did him in. Russia came in as a gold-medal contender but was ushered out after the quarterfinals, thanks to getting their doors blown off by Canada in a 7-3 romp. There were assorted murmurs that week about the Russians having way too much fun off the ice.
Ovechkin back on track as he preps to face Canucks on Monday
Vancouver Province | Oct 28