Alex Ovechkin won the Hart and Richard Trophies last season. He was pretty great– particularly on the power play. Looking forward to the 2013-14 season, there’s good reason to lower our expectations for him, but let’s not carried away.
First, we must acknowledge that Ovi excelled last year due to a superb-but-unsustainable Washington power play unit as well as his own red-hot shooting. Neil established long ago that Ovechkin is a streaky shooter, and Ovi’s shot percentage at the tail end of the season was one of the hottest streaks of his entire career– as evidenced by the blue line below, a 40-game moving average of Ovi’s shooting over his career.
It’s unavoidable for that percentage to back off, but take heart. Ovechin’s raw shot totals (in red above) are finally rebounding after a decline that started in 09-10 and bottomed out during the doldrums of Hunter Hockey. If Adam Oates can continue to reinvigorate Alex Ovechkin’s game– particularly at even-strength– and maybe lighten his load with a Grabovski-anchored second line, Ovi just might do something great.
Not like 50-goals great, but still, ya know, great.