Commentary

Has Alex Ovechkin peaked?

Recent drop in production prompts question of whether star will ever shine again

Originally Published: December 28, 2011
By Neil Greenberg | ESPN Insider
Alex OvechkinScott Audette/NHLI via Getty ImagesWith diminishing goal totals, will Alex Ovechkin ever approach 50 goals again?

Alex Ovechkin is 26 years old and has been one of the NHL's most prolific scorers in recent years, becoming only the fourth player all-time to post four 50-goal campaigns in his first five seasons (Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux were the others).

"He's the most exciting guy in the league," Washington defenseman Karl Alzner said after a 4-1 victory over Nashville last week. Then the young blueliner paused and added, "When he's on his game."

And therein lies the rub. Ovechkin has been more often the Good Eight than the Great Eight lately.

Capitals coach Dale Hunter thinks Ovechkin's struggles are because defenses are keying in on him. "It's a chore to try to get a shot," explains Hunter. "Some games he will spring with seven shots and other games he has to battle to get them."

It's a theory, but it's hard to imagine a skater who joined Gretzky and Lemieux as the only players to record 200 goals and 200 assists in their first four NHL seasons is just now being singled out by NHL defensemen. Perhaps there is a different reason for the lower goal totals. Perhaps Alex Ovechkin has simply peaked.


To read about Alex Ovechkin's production dip and whether he can recapture his form, you must be an ESPN Insider.

Neil Greenberg is ESPN Insider's NHL analytics expert. His columns have appeared on the Washington Post website, and he is a regular guest on Sirius XM NHL Radio.