From Alzner to Wideman, we're taking a look at and grading (please read the criteria below) the 2010-11 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2011-12. Next up, Alex Ovechkin.
#8 / Left Wing / Washington Capitals
Sep 17, 1985
$9,538,461.54 cap hit in 2009-10; UFA after 2020-21 season
'09-'10 Rink Wrap: 7.74 rating
Key Stat: Ovechkin, who leads the NHL in power-play goals since he entered the League, went from October 30 to February 4 - a span of 41 games, or half a season - without scoring a power-play goal.
Interesting Stat: For the second consecutive post-season, Ovechkin posted five goals (one on the power-play) and five assists while registering 34 shots on goal. (Of course, he did it in two more games and 50 more minutes of ice time in 2010-11.)
The Good: Make no mistake about it - Alex Ovechkin had a "good" year. He led the Eastern Conference's best regular season team in goals, assists, plus/minus (tied), even strength points, power-play points, home points, road points, intra-divisional points, inter-divisional points, hits and shots on goal. He also led the League in game-winning goals (tied) and finished ninth on the circuit in points-per-game (thanks to a surprising sixth-place finish in assists-per-game), while sprinkling in a handful of "vintage Ovi" moments along the way (and hopping back on Twitter).
In the playoffs he led the Caps in scoring, potting five goals in nine games and notching multiple points in one-third of those matches, while scoring or assisting on all five Caps' power-play goals in the post-season.
Yep, a pretty good year by just about anyone's standards. But Alex Ovechkin isn't just anyone...
The Bad: ... he's Alex Ovechkin. And he only scored 32 goals. While all but 76 active NHLers haven't once scored that many in a season, for the League's leading (by a mile) post-Lockout goal-scorer to end up with such a relatively pedestrian total was somewhat shocking. This past season saw Ovechkin's goal totals drop by 36% from a year earlier and followed a three-year span during which he averaged 57 goals, all just three years removed from a season in which he lit the lamp more than twice as many times. The 32 goals were 14 fewer than he scored in his previous low season (his sophomore campaign), and the seven power-play goals he tallied this past season were as many as he scored last year... by December 23 (which was previously the latest he'd hit seven power-play goals in a season as an NHLer).
But it wasn't just Ovechkin's goal-scoring that dipped in 2010-11, as his shots on goal (both in total and per-game), shooting percentage and points (total and per-game) all hit NHL career lows.
As Ovi went, so went the Caps. He had at least one point in 40 of the Caps' 48 regular season wins, scoring or assisting on the winner in half of those games and tallying 25 goals, 47 assists and a plus-38 rating in the 46 wins in which he played (1.6 points per game), while totaling just seven goals, six assists and a minus-14 rating in the 33 games for which he suited up and the team lost (0.4 points per outing). He broke that trend in the spring, ending up with six points in the Caps' five playoff losses and four in their four wins, but his efforts obviously weren't enough... again. And when the team suffered yet another disappointing end to the season, fingers - rightly or wrongly - pointed in the direction of the captain, who failed to deliver a single second-round win, much less the two in Tampa that he, uh, kinda guaranteed.
The Vote: Rate Ovechkin below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
The Discussion: Where does Alex Ovechkin go from here? With his best goal-scoring years likely behind him, how does he become a better, perhaps even more dominant NHL player and captain? What will it take for him to earn a 10 rating next year?