Photo credit: Greg Fiume
Alex Ovechkin, who will turn 26 this year, is a special player. Indisputable. Full stop.
The Great 8 has won the Calder Memorial Trophy (best NHL rookie), the Art Ross (most points), two Harts (MVP) that beat as one, two Richards (most goals), and three Ted Lindsay Awards (best player voted by peers). He has also been named to seven NHL All-Star teams.
But that doesn’t mean he is a lock to score 50 goals ever again.
Eighty seven players have scored 50 goals in the modern era. And only half of them did it more than once. Ovechkin is also one of only 12 active players remaining who have hit the mark.
Quite a few of them did it early, with two-thirds having their first 50-goal season before age 25. More than a third performed the feat before turning 22, but only 7 percent managed to score 50 after age 26.
It is a pretty steep decline after age 25, a trend that has continued post-lockout.
Here’s another number: one. That’s how many players scored 50 goals last season.
Since the lockout, there has been a decline in scoring. Most of that is due to fewer power play opportunities, thus fewer power play goals scored.
This is why– even if Ovechkin posts a season under 50 goals– it is not a disappointment nor an indication he is any less spectacular.
It just means that at age 26, in this scoring climate, the odds weren’t in his favor.