Ovi can't even light up the KHL, can we finally admit that he's past his prime?
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11-06-2012, 06:24 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Originally Posted by
Yes, Ovie's lost a step. Yes, he lacks creativity. And those things definitely contributed to his drop in production. But there's some context that absolutely needs to be added here, as many people have mentioned.
First of all, the scheme change. There seems to be some misunderstanding about when it came about. After the Montreal series, we did go to a slightly less "all out" offensive scheme, but we weren't yet going full-on defensive. Through 26 games, the Caps were 18-6-2. They were leading the NHL by 4 points, scoring 3.46 goals per game (which would've led the league this year), and had Ovie, Backstrom, and Semin all scoring at over a PPG pace. Then came the 8 game losing streak. Boudreau panicked, and fearing for his job, decided to take the radical step of completely overhauling the system to focus on defense, despite the fact that the team was not at all built to play that type of game. After scoring 90 goals in their first 26 games, the Caps scored 129 in the next 56 - thats 2.30 goals per game, a 34% drop. It doesn't take a math genius to figure out what that kind of drop off does to a 100 point player.
Another thing is his shooting percentage. Ovechkin is a career 12% shooter, but from the start of the 8 game losing streak (Dec 2, 2010) to Christmas of 2011, he scored 33 goals on 381 shots over the course of 86 games, a shooting percentage of 8.7% and a 31 goal pace over an 82 game season. In other words, he was seriously snake-bitten. Now, before someone says this is a symptom of his regression, I'll point out that he totally turned it around after that point. He finished the season with 27 goals on 177 shots over 45 games. That's a 15% shooting percentage and 49 goal pace. In the Dale Hunter's extreme turtle system, playing with Brooks Laich, Troy Brouwer, and Marcus Johansson, while Backstrom was out and Green was still recovering from sports hernia surgery, he stepped up his game and was probably the biggest reason we were able to gut out a playoff birth. That production is the reason I'm reasonably sure that next season, once he's reunited with Backstrom (who Hunter kept on a separate line from Ovie even once he came back) and is playing in a far more offensively oriented system, that his goal scoring will rebound.
Lastly, I just want to touch on his assist totals. Ovechkin has always been an underrated passer. You don't average 52 assists a season your first 6 seasons without some ability. Still, he needs to play with guys who can put the puck in the net in order to get assists, and for most of the year, he didn't. He had Backstrom for 38 games, but otherwise he spent the vast majority of his time with Brouwer, Johansson, and Laich, who are horribly incompetent shooters. I can't tell you how many times I watched those guys take great feeds from Ovie only fire it straight into the goalie's chest, or miss wide on an open net. Given a full season with Backstrom in a more open system, I think his assist totals will rebound too.
This season (or next season) is a 45-45 pace for Ovie, with a definite chance for 50 goals and/or 100 points. Past his peak, sure, but not past his prime.
The funny thing is Ovechkin put up 106 and 92 Pts respectively in his first 2 seasons when he had absolutely no offensive help.
He starts to regress offensively and people want to use the excuse that his linemates were hurt?
Truly great players can put up the numbers regardless of who their linemates are.
If Ovechkin can't do that then he's honestly not worthy of being considered elite. He simply becomes a player who is a product of elite teammates/ linemates and an offensive system that allows him to just score and not bother to forecheck.
I personally don't think that it's the linemate thing that has hindered Ovechkin over the last 2 seasons.
As for your assist argument, when you shoot 400+ times a year on average, you're bound to create a few rebounds that your teammates will pot in. I'd be interested to see how many of those 52 assists a year were actual passes and not rebounds.
Bure had a few 40 + assists seasons in his prime to go along with his goals, did that make him a good passer? Ovechkin also played on a powerplay that was ridiculously stacked offensively. If he didn't average 52 assists playing with Semin, Backstrom, Green and company then I think something would have been wrong.
Give Malkin that kind of support for instance and he would have averaged 80 assists.
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