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Posted at 10:11 AM ET, 02/28/2011

Sports Illustrated on Ovechkin: A "Falling Star"

By Dan Steinberg


Time was, you could comfortably call Alex Ovechkin one of the two best hockey players in the world and no one would notice. To some segment of the casual sports fan, that's probably still the case. But eventually, even the casual sports fan is gonna notice stuff like this.

Ovechkin is tied for eighth in the NHL in points. He's behind Sidney Crosby, despite having logged 50 percent more games. He's tied for 20th in goals, with the lowest shooting percentage of anyone in the top 50. And he's 37th in the NHL in goals-per-game.

Whatever the reason and whatever the long-term prognosis, Sports Illustrated headlines like the one above will help sway the casual sports fan.

"The truth seems to be that the league has solved Ovechkin," the story goes. "Opponents used to back off him when he had the puck for fear he'd skate past them if they got too close. Now they beat him by being more physical."

(Via Capitals Outsider)

By Dan Steinberg  | February 28, 2011; 10:11 AM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Comments

Hard to argue. Ovechkin just hasn't been an elite player since the Olympics the middle of last season. Various theories. SI likes the one about the league figuring out how to defend him. Others thrown about are lack of conditioning and too much off ice partying; poor off season habits; the NHL messing with his game through the unfair suspensions last season; undisclosed injuries; one GM actually said he thought Ovechkin was saving himself for the playoffs. Who knows but very disappointing.

Posted by: poguesmahone | February 28, 2011 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Well, first off Ovechkin has always had a low shooting percentage. Secondly, we're to assume that this one off-year is Ovechkin's problem, despite the fact that the no-scoring plague has infected the entire team - Semin, Backstrom and Green are having terrible years as well. However, we're supposed to throw out all that evidence that suggests Boudreau has panicked and abandoned the Caps' offensive system and suggest it's that teams have "figured out" Ovechkin?

Color me skeptical.

Posted by: theamazingmouse | February 28, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

In the first 26 games of the year, Ovechkin had 10 goals, putting him on pace for 31.5 for the year. This was before the losing streak, and before the coach made any changes to the team's systems. Blaming the coach is easy, but the facts don't back that up.

Posted by: jpb007 | February 28, 2011 11:21 AM | Report abuse

In the first 26 games of the year, Ovechkin had 10 goals, putting him on pace for 31.5 for the year. This was before the losing streak, and before the coach made any changes to the team's systems. Blaming the coach is easy, but the facts don't back that up.

Posted by: jpb007 | February 28, 2011 11:21 AM

--------------------

Take a closer look. He had 33 points through those 26 games, putting him on pace for 104 points. He had 109 last year.

He's now on a pace for 82 points.

Posted by: theamazingmouse | February 28, 2011 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I'll take it a step further. He had 30 points in the 37 games after the losing streak began. That's a pace for 66 points over an 82-game season. Compare that to the 104-point pace he started out with. That is a HUGE drop-off.

Posted by: theamazingmouse | February 28, 2011 11:38 AM | Report abuse

They needed something to write about and he is an easy target because his numbers are down. Let's see if the league can figure him out in the playoffs this year??? We will see.

Lets Go CAPS!

Posted by: DCSportsfanatic1 | February 28, 2011 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I love the conspiracy theories on Alex Ovechkin. I am surprised that a Sports Illustrated, supposedly a magazine of sports journalism, has decided to join in. What ever happened to having proof before you write an article. I have not seen any proof for any of these theories.

Posted by: JAMNEW | February 28, 2011 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Fyi

2006 - He weighed 215 lbs
2011 - He weighs 250 lbs

He needs to stay in tune with his trainers and workout harder.

no more McD's!

Posted by: Nats1924 | February 28, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Fyi

2006 - He weighed 215 lbs
2011 - He weighs 250 lbs

He needs to stay in tune with his trainers and workout harder.

no more McD's!

Posted by: Nats1924 | February 28, 2011 12:21 PM

------------------

The NHL lists his weight as 233 pounds.

Posted by: theamazingmouse | February 28, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

His best is yet to come... you watch!!!! He will prove everyone wrong, as usual.

Posted by: jsaccone | February 28, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse

The Regular season means NOTHING

Posted by: ginnyandrick | February 28, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

The Regular season means NOTHING

Posted by: ginnyandrick


-------------

Tell that to the 14 teams who won't be participating in this season's playoffs - possibly including the Caps.

Posted by: noslok | February 28, 2011 1:38 PM | Report abuse

What ever happened to having proof before you write an article. I have not seen any proof for any of these theories.

Posted by: JAMNEW | February 28, 2011 11:53 AM |
----------------

C'mon, really?

Posted by: tha_prophet | February 28, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Translation: if you clutch, hook, trip, and interfere with Ovechkin, he can be stopped. I wonder what would happen if the league actually enforced the rules as they apply to Ovehckin. Oh, that's right, when they did enforce the rules, he lead the league in scoring and hits and was the most popular player in the league. We can't let a Russian be more popular than a Canadian, Sidney Crosby, can we?

Remind me why the NHL is a third rate league?

Posted by: Matt23185 | February 28, 2011 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Remember how in basketball only one man could stop Michael Jordan, and that was Dean Smith? Similarly, in hockey only one man can stop Ovie and of course that's Bruce Boudreau.

Posted by: spunkydawg1 | February 28, 2011 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I think its a combination of factors.

One, yes I the league has figured out where Ovechkin likes to shoot from and his tendency to shoot through players, using them as a screen. So, defensemen are much quicker to challenge him when he skates past the blue line.

Two, I think Ovechkin did begin the season with an injury. Remember he received a cortisone shot for his wrist in the first month or so and until the past 10 games or so hasn't been fully extending himself on his trademark shots from the point on the power play. He has looked a lot more comfortable recently, although still not as much so as last year.

Three, I think the change to a more defensive style is something Ovechkin has embraced. He has become a lot more responsible in his own end, blocking shots and challenging shooters. This is something he never did in the past. The effort and physical play on the backline has taken something off his offensive game IMO.

Lastly, the Capitals as a team had a lot of max performances last year. Backstrom had 101 points, Knuble had 29 goals, Semin had 40 goals, Green had 18 goals, Laich had 25 plus.

This year NO ONE is having a max season. Semin was on a great pace early but then has been hurt and ice cold upon his return.

Green has been hurt throughout the season. His missing time on the power play has hurt the forwards as defensemen can now shade coverage toward Ovechkin.

Backstrom had 30 goals last year and only 15 this season. He has missed many open nets in crucial situations that he didn't miss in 2010.

Knuble and Laich are easier to explain. Knuble is 38 years old and is slowing down. Laich, only 27, was known in the past as a grinder then last year he scored 25 or 26 goals and 50 points. Now he is regressing to his career averages and looks out of place with the first unit on the power play and in extended minutes.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | February 28, 2011 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Talk to me after the playoffs. That's all that matters. Also, has anyone else noticed he's back to being a beast the last week or so? I think he's saving himself for April through June.

Posted by: dcmusician2 | February 28, 2011 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I agree to some extent, however no one in the NHL has a motor like Ovi and he will figure it out. He has picked up his play over the last 20 games and is starting to look like the player we all know and love to watch. He still can take over a game and as long as that's true you can never call him a "Falling Star"! In the end I believe he will regain his edge and learn how to counter the pressure he has been receiving this season. He has already started that process and I suspect he has a trick or two to show who ever the Caps face in the first round of the playoffs!

Posted by: ekbinion68 | February 28, 2011 3:46 PM | Report abuse

The whole "Great 8" thing has gone to his head. He needs to get back to just being Sasha..

Posted by: wewintheylose1 | February 28, 2011 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Ovechkin has put up great numbers. So he has a bad year. So what? Are you going to stop supporting the caps if Ovechkin sucks? You getting after Ovechkin,saying that they may not be in the playoffs, getting down on him, i have one word to describe you.

fairweather fans. I don't care if Ovechkin is scoring all the time. This is hockey, a team sport. Ovechkin, backstrom, and green all have had highlight years for the past few. Semin, well, he'll be a hot shot, and then disappear. They did awesome last year and now they don't. Get used to it. I bet flyers aren't going to be great next year.

So, fairweather fans, have fun watching ovechkin tommorow. Hey if you feel like it, boo him, because you obviously have no faith for you team.

go caps

Posted by: bartlettbears1 | February 28, 2011 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Whoa there bartlettbears1, settle down.

There wasn't a single comment that suggested people would stop being fans of the caps if Ovechkin sucked and Ovechkin's drop-off this year is a perfectly legitimate discussion. I'm not sure why you're getting all fired up.

Posted by: brown2hm | March 1, 2011 10:40 AM | Report abuse

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