CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in alphabetical order. Today: Alex Ovechkin
Position: Left Wing
HtWt: 6-3, 230
Penalty Minutes: 26
Average Ice Time: 19:48
Contract Status: 9 years remaining on 13-year, 124 million contract 9.538 million cap hit in 2012-13
Strengths: Dont believe all you hear about Ovechkin no longer being a dominant offensive force in the NHL. Every opposing teams game plan is centered around stopping Ovechkin and he is still one of the hardest hitting and hardest shooting players in the game. Ovechkin plays as hard as anyone on the ice and can change a games momentum with one shift.
Weaknesses: Ovechkins point totals have fallen dramatically in the last two years, from 109 in 2009-10 to just 65 last season. The biggest reason is that he has become too predictable. Opposing defensemen know Ovechkin likes to shoot from the top of the left circle and theyve taken that shot away with quick poke checks and blocks. Ovechkin recorded a career-low 303 shots on goal and finished fifth in the NHL in that category, the first time in his career he has not led the league. Ovechkin also needs to play better positional hockey in the defensive end and that means getting back quickly after the puck is lost in the offensive zone. If Ovechkins defense improves, his ice time will increase.
Memorable Moment on the ice: On May 9, two nights after failing to record a shot for just the second time in his playoff career, Ovechkin set the tone early in Game 6 against the Rangers when he fired a blistering one-timer past Henrik Lundqvists catching glove for a 1-0 lead. Jason Chimera later made it 2-0 and the Capitals hung on for a 2-1 victory that forced a Game 7 in New York. It proved to be Ovechkins last goal and the Capitals final win of the 2011-12 season. We knew we could beat them, said Ovechkin, who led the Caps with five playoff goals. It was very intense.
Memorable Moment off the ice: Can anyone forget the angry words Ovechkin had for Bruce Boudreau on the night of Nov. 1, after Ovechkin was benched for the final 62 seconds of a game the Caps were trailing by a goal? As Ovechkin took his seat on the bench he appeared to call Boudreau a fat something or other. Boudreaus daring tactic paid off when Nicklas Backstrom scored to send the game into overtime and again in overtime for a 5-4 win over the Ducks. I thought other guys were better than him and I thought there was just a chance that other guys might score the goal, said Boudreau, who was fired 27 days later.. Ive got to put out the guys that I think are going to score the goal and 99 percent of the time Alex is the guy I think is going to score the goal. I just didnt think Alex was going to score the goal at that time tonight. You go with your gut feeling, thinking that line is going pretty good and I got lucky. Ovechkin said it was the first time he had been benched since he was 14 years old, but it wouldnt be the last. Dale Hunter benched him for long stretches in playoff games in which the Capitals held a lead.
2012-13 Expectations: Did anyone ever think there would come a day when 40 goals and 80 points would be considered reasonable expectations for Ovechkin, who hit the 50-goal and 100-point mark four times in his first five years? If the Capitals next coaching staff can get Ovechkin to play better in his own zone, they could live with him producing 80 points along with a plus-15 or better rating. But ultimately, Ovechkins success will be determined by how far the Capitals go in the playoffs every spring. So far, hes at two rounds and holding.