Fresh off a five-year contract extension, Alex Ovechkin started his age-36 season with a bang, notching four points (2g, 2a) against the New York Rangers on Opening Night and tallying goals in three consecutive games. The six points in three games were Ovechkin’s third-best start to a season in career history (points-wise). 2021-22 also marked the sixth time in Ovechkin’s illustrious career he had scored four or more goals just three games into a schedule.
The three-game beginning to Ovechkin’s age-37 season has practically been the opposite. Ovechkin is goalless in 2022-23 and has only one point, an assist, as the Capitals have lost two of their first three games.
So should we be worried?
It’s gonna be a no from me, dawg. The last time Ovechkin went goalless in the first three games of a season, he won the Rocket Richard Trophy at year’s end as the league’s leading goal-scorer. That happened during the 2012-13 campaign where he replicated this season’s beginning results — zero goals and one point — and ended with 32 goals in 48 games.
|Szn||Goals 1st 3 games||Pts||Total G||Pts||Richard?|
Analyzing the chart further, in the six seasons where Ovechkin scored one goal or less to start the year, he ended up winning the Rocket Richard Trophy three different times. In the six seasons where he scored four goals or more to start the year, he ended up leading the league in goals four times. Basically, for Ovechkin, this is not a predictor of bad things to come because every season he’s been consistently good no matter his start.
If Ovi is “scuffling” or not as dangerous, the context matters. The Capitals had a lot of turnover over the offseason.
They are without Nicklas Backstrom on the half-wall of the power play due to a hip injury (Ovechkin has the most PPG in NHL history) and the first line is without his normal right wing, Tom Wilson, due to a knee injury.
The Capitals started the year with a tough schedule, too — games in consecutive days against two playoff teams from the 2021-22 season, the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs. On Saturday, the Capitals faced the lowly Canadiens on the back end of a back-to-back. Ovechkin scored against Montreal, but it technically did not count because the goal was overturned due to an offside challenge. Later in the evening, Ovi’s empty-net shot attempt missed by mere inches after hitting the post.
RMNB’s Peter Hassett wrote at the beginning of the year that age is the Capitals’ biggest risk this season. A stretch of three or four goalless games for Ovechkin isn’t an issue. We should only worry when it becomes a growing and more frequent trend.
Since 2013, Ovechkin has gone three straight games without a goal 106 times out of 673 games (16 percent). He’s gone four games without a goal only 51 times (8 percent).
Simply put, Ovechkin is one of the most consistent goal-scorers in NHL history. The only reason why we’re talking about this is that we expect so much out of him.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.