In the first five seasons of his career, Alex Ovechkin averaged 54 goals per season and scored 50 or more four times. His chances of toppling Wayne Gretzky’s career record of 894 seemed like a reasonable thing to discuss. We’re three-quarters of the way through this season, however, and a seemingly healthy Ovi is on pace for just 32 goals.
The theories on his scoring downturn are myriad. He changed his game! He put on weight! He’s passing more! He’s saving himself!
What’s assumed with each is that, at some point, the Great 8 will figure it out. Whether it be in the playoffs, next season or some point beyond, he’ll suddenly be great again.
We need to face facts, though, and the fact is no all-time great goal scorer has returned to form after laying an egg like this.
Of the top 25 goal scorers in NHL history*, none had 50-goal seasons both before and after dipping below 35 for a full season.** None as in no one.
One did come close, though. Ironically enough for Caps fans, it was Jaromir Jagr, who netted 35 in 1997-98 after scoring 62 in ’95-96 and before scoring 52 in 2000-01 and 54 in ’05-06.
So, yeah, the odds are stacked against Ovi. It would be unprecedented for him to finish this season with less than 35 goals and then go on to score 50 or more ever again. But, you know, Ovi’s a pretty unprecedented guy.
* I stopped researching after 25 and have no idea how long the list goes, or if it ever ends, even.
** A full season is defined as 75 games. If that seems arbitrary, it’s b/c it is.