When you total over 100 points in four of your first five seasons, it isn’t difficult to see why the past couple of campaigns have been tremendous disappointments for Alex Ovechkin. Even with his rival Sidney Crosby out, nursing concussion symptoms, for almost all of that time, the debate over who the no. 1 player in the world between the two is all but dead.
Many have questioned whether or not we will ever see Ovechkin return to his 50-goal scoring ways. Given what we’ve seen from him the past couple of years, it’s definitely a fair question. But the odds now may be in his favor to return to that high level, and start putting up absurd numbers again in the near future.
One reason that we could see an increase in production is the obvious change behind the bench. Adam Oates takes over for Dale Hunter as the head coach of the Washington Capitals. It’s well-documented that Oates is a power play specialist, which should automatically boost Ovechkin’s numbers.
The Caps as a whole were disappointing with the man advantage, but Ovechkin was particularly mediocre. With Oates now taking over as the boss of the Caps, Ovechkin should see a spike in his power play numbers. Though his past couple of seasons overall have been average, his power play numbers have taken a gigantic hit, falling from 40 or 50 early on to just 23 with the man advantage last season. Oates should help him in that respect.
Then there’s the fact, and an underrated one, that Nicklas Backstrom is back and completely healthy. That should lead to a huge uptick in Ovechkin’s production, having a premier center next to him again, after Backstrom spent much of last season nursing a concussion.
Though it’s not a tremendous indicator, Ovechkin did finish with 16 points in the final few weeks of the season. It’s not the torrid pace he kept up in the seasons prior, but it’s not as if it was awful. He finished with 65 points last year. That was a career low. But he’s only a couple of seasons removed from 109. One would have to imagine, a coaching change, combined with a healthy team and perhaps some added motivation would help him to return to that form we once saw.