Alex Ovechkin Probably Won’t Return To Goal-Scoring Greatness, Says History

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.

18 thoughts on “Alex Ovechkin Probably Won’t Return To Goal-Scoring Greatness, Says History”

  1. He sure laid an egg on Tuesday in OT.. I don’t have any numbers in front of me, but he seems to score in most games lately. Sure his goal #’s are a little down, but he’s back.

  2. Hmm, but what point in their career did that below-35 dip occur? This is Ovi’s 6th season, and he’s 25 years old.

  3. WJ, he’s scored four goals in the past seven games, so he’s on a it of an upswing.

    TG, Ovi’s young, so he’s got that going for him, but none of the top-25 scorers posted 50 after a sub-35 dip, regardless of when it occurred.

  4. I feel that there is no reason to believe that Ovie won’t be able to return to the 50 goal plateau.

    That being said, there are two things he can do to climb back up. First, he needs to take the off-season seriously. I dunno but it appears that he spent quite a bit of time partying and wouldn’t surprise me if he wasn’t in top shape once the season started.

    Secondly and this is the biggie — he needs to find a new move. Everyone knows that Ovie is going to take the puck up the wing and then cut across the circles before attempting to fire a wrist shot through the defenders legs. Everyone knows what’s coming so they’re not going to give him space. If Ovie can develop a new maneuver or approach, that would help immensely.

    Another factor to keep in mind though is that Ovechkin is not the only one having a down year. Nick Backstrom has been very below-par this year, Semin is Semin, Laich and Knuble have tailed off and our best offensive defensemen in Green and Poti haven’t been able to stay healthy.

    Whatever happens this season, the interesting thing will be to see how Ovie chooses to approach the off season…Hopefully that offseason will be a short one.

  5. The whole team around Ovie is having a down year so people can ignore them and focus on him. I would bet he scores 50 or more goals next season.

    I’ll bet on it.
    /spitonit

  6. Davey,
    The Caps are only 1 point out from a division lead. 6 out from conference, and are 5th in Eastern Standings. I think the fan base has become a bit spoiled.

  7. The biggest problem with him is that he’s out all night, every night, partying with Mike Green and Alex Semin. Word is that they show up for just about every practice hung over, and that there’s plenty of stories out there about them doing it before games, including Mike Green doing bong hits.

    What, them worry?

  8. This type of article w/ no rational analysis upsets me. Proclaiming that he’s ‘finished’ is a bit shallow. It’s a simple matter of not scoring on the PP this season– which is when it’s easiest to cash in… The Caps lost their juice this year on special teams and Bruce Boudreau has stated that as well. He’s got 5 PPG right now, when his previous season totals were 21, 16, 22, 19, 13… and his shooting % is waaaay down to about 8% (4 percent below his career avg). I don’t think you understand how the game works. There’s nothing wrong with Ovechkin, just perhaps a bit of synergy amongst the guys on the–especially on the PP. I reject your analysis, Jamie.

  9. I enjoyed the article it was backed by statical records. Simply stating that in the history of the NHL once a player has down turn goal scoring wise that usually marks something. It is an interesting concept if any has a chance of bucking the trend it be vie bc of age and pier track record

  10. What goes unnoticed is the fact Ovechkin has 43 assists and is on pace for 55.

    As a team captain he has looked to get others involved during the course of the season, even giving up empty net opportunities on at least 2 occasions to allow others to pad their totals.

    I think you may see a different Ovechkin in the playoffs if the team finds itself down in a key situation. The defense first mantra may then go out the window.

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