Throughout the coming weeks, CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2014-15 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every day in alphabetical order. Today: Alex Ovechkin
Position: Left Wing
Age: 29 [turns 30 Sep. 17]
Ht/Wt: 6-3, 235
Penalty minutes: 58
Average Ice Time: 20:19
Playoff games: 14
Penalty minutes: 6
Average Ice Time: 19:57
Contract Status: 6 years remaining on 13-year, $124 million contract [2015-16 salary: $10 million; cap hit: $9,538,462]
Strengths: Considering the scrutiny he received a year ago after leading the NHL in goal scoring but finishing with a career-worst minus-35, Ovechkin needed a boost to his image and head coach Barry Trotz provided it. It all started with a one-on-one chat between the two at the NHL awards banquet in Las Vegas last summer, when Trotz asked his captain to answer a series of questions he had typed out for him. From there, a relationship built on respect and professionalism was born. Ovechkin was asked to play better away from the puck and he did, turning his minus-35 into a plus-10. He was asked to produce more while playing less and he did, scoring a league-high 53 goals while averaging the second-lowest ice time 20:19 of his NHL career. Ovechkin finished his 10th NHL season ranked first in goals , power-play goals [career-high 25], game-winning goals  and shots . He also finished fourth in the NHL in points  and tied for ninth among forwards in hits with 259. Ovechkin’s 395 shots were his most since the 2008-09 season and came in a season when he was asked to backcheck harder and more frequently than he ever did in his career. “From what I've observed, he's done what's been asked of him," Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said. “He bought in to what Barry has asked him to do and he's been successful. And consequently our team has.”
Room for improvement: Ovechkin will never be a Selke Trophy candidate and his positioning in the defensive zone can always be improved. He still has a tendency to want to leave the defensive zone early but paid more attention to that area of his game this season. Ovechkin’s slapper from the left circle is one of the most predictable yet effective shots in the NHL. He added a net-front presence to his game this season and could go there more often to create traffic, deflect pucks and pounce on rebounds. Ovechkin was a beast against the Islanders in Round 1 but was held without a point against the Rangers in Games 3, 4, 5 and 6 before scoring the Caps’ lone goal in their 2-1 overtime loss in Game 7.
Memorable Moment: Got an hour? Ovechkin had a ton of them. That move he used to score a goal against the Devils on Dec. 20 was, as Joe Beninati put it, ‘Dangle-iscious.” Ovechkin rumbled down the right wing and somehow stepped inside defenseman Jon Merrill before hoisting a backhander over Devils goalie Cory Schneider. But Ovechkin’s most incredible individual effort came in Game 2 in the Rangers playoff series when he split defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi and beat Henrik Lundqvist over the shoulder on his way to the ice, a shot even Lundqvist had difficulty describing after the game.
Quotable: “Like I said, we’re going to New York and finish out the series. That’s what I mean. I don’t care what everybody thinks, to be honest with you. I care about what we think here in the group and as a team. You guys can think whatever you want.” – Ovechkin before Game 7 against the Rangers
2015-16 Expectations: The goal, at least in the eyes of Barry Trotz, is for Ovechkin to improve on an already improved product. That means more frequent back checks and better positioning in the defensive zone without sacrificing offense. Ovechkin always seems to have a motivating factor and next season he will have a few. It will be his first NHL season as a 30-year-old, very likely his first without Mike Green feeding him, and his 11th seeking a trip to the Conference Final for the first time. The bar of 50 goals, 80 points and a Stanley Cup has been set.