Is the Loss of Sidney Crosby a Factor in Alex Ovechkin's Struggles?

By Steve Palumbo

Alexander Ovechkin is one of the most – if not THE most – feared scoring threats in the entire NHL. But he and the Washington Capitals have struggled for most of this season leading some to wonder – what the heck happened?

I started to wonder to myself if there was any correlation between Ovi’s decline and the concussion issues of Sidney Crosby. The two super stars were once considered the premier marketable assets in the entire National Hockey league. They were featured in several commercials and advertisements and developed a natural rivalry. They always seemed to push one another to be great but without Crosby that motivation is gone.

But to the dismay of hockey fans all across North America, Crosby has been dealing with concussion-like issues for the better part of two seasons and I think it has indirectly affected Ovechkin’s performance.

In 2010-11 Crosby played a career low 41 games and as a result scored a career low 66 points. (BTW 66points in 41 games is AWESOME)Despite playing 79 games, Ovechkin collected a career low 85 points. Even though he averaged more than a point game, Ovi had seemingly lost his edge. He’s not hitting, skating or moving the same. The flash has faded and his team is suffering because of it.

Crosby has missed all but eight games this year and so far Ovi is on pace for the worst statistical season of his career. Through 56 games Ovechkin has just 45 points and is well off the point-plus-per-game pace he established as a standard throughout his entire career.

In No. 8’s previous five seasons he scored less than 100 points once. This season will be his second consecutive sub-100 point season.

From 2007-09, in 12 game against the Penguins Ovechkin had 22 points including 14 goals. In the eight games since then, Washington’s captain has just five points with only three goals against a Crosby-less Penguins team.

The skilled Russian will score goals – he has too much natural talent not to – but without a natural rival pushing him, Ovechkin appears to lack that extra motivation that once propelled him to an elite level of play we have come to expect – and take for granted.

For years we have been waiting for the Capitals to take that next step and become legitimate Stanley Cup contenders and it has yet to come to fruition. This season the Caps are 29-25-5 and sit tenth in the Eastern Conference and appear headed towards a longer than expected off-season for the first time since the 2006-07 season. It’s a shame that one concussion may have taken two great players away from the game.

As odd as it sounds – the best thing that could happen to the Caps and Ovechkin is for Sidney Crosby to finally be healthy enough to play. Crosby has started to skate on his own but it may already be too late for the Capitals and the enigmatic, Alex the Great.

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