Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has always been defined by his consistency. In November, TSN’s Travis Yost did the math and revealed that Ovechkin had gone the last five seasons without a goal drought longer than six games. None of Ovechkin’s goal-scoring contemporaries — including Corey Pery, Jamie Benn, Joe Pavelski, Steven Stamkos, and Tyler Seguin — could claim the same, all experiencing goal droughts in the double digits.
Sunday night, after 12 seasons and 907 career NHL games, Ovechkin finally showed he was mortal, going his tenth-straight game without a goal. It marks the longest single-season goalless streak of Ovechkin’s career.
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) March 13, 2017
“It’s nice it’s happening right now before the playoffs than during playoffs,” Ovechkin said after the Caps 5-2 loss to Anaheim. “Obviously, it’s a little bit frustrating because the puck don’t go in — sometime you need to wait for miracle or something — you just have to work harder and fight through it.”
“I’m not a rookie anymore,” Ovechkin continued. “I don’t think I have to score every game. Of course I wanted to. If you look at chances, what I have, it’s all about me. The guys give me very good plays, I just have to put it in. That’s it, one goal in and it’ll turn around different way.”
Since his last goal on February 19, Alex Ovechkin has put 32 shots on net. For a player shooting 12.3 over his career and who had been good for a goal roughly every other game, this has been a startling cold period.
But those 32 shots also represent a decline in volume that is perhaps more worrying in the long term. Ovechkin’s on-net shots during 5-on-5 have been down 34 percent during the slump compared to the rest of the Trotz era. The power play, where 13 of Ovi’s shots have come from since February 19, has seen only a minor drop-off — around 9 percent.
Though it’s been magnified by poor shooting luck, this slump tracks with what we’ve seen from Ovechkin this season: diminished returns during even strength, perhaps compounded by an ineffective combination of top-line players, and impressive durability during the man advantage.
It cannot be denied that Ovechkin is in decline, but these last few weeks are a funhouse mirror — distorting mediocre play into something desperate and inexorable.
Peter Hassett also contributed to this article.
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