How many goals will Alex Ovechkin end up scoring for the Washington Capitals this season? It’s anybody’s guess, but at the rate he’s going, a total of 70 is certainly possible.
The Capitals’ superstar is on fire at the moment, and leads the NHL in goals scored (10) and shots on goal (67) through the Caps’ first 10 games. His latest goal came in the 4-1 dismantling of a floundering Edmonton Oilers outfit on Thursday night, and he’ll be hoping to tally tonight against the Calgary Flames to give his team a fourth straight win. Whether he maintains his current goal-a-game rate of return remains to be seen, however, one thing is certain, the old Ovi is back.
The 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons saw an uncomfortable Ovechkin tally up a paltry 32 goals and 38 goals over those respective seasons. Perhaps his reduced numbers were a result of instability within the franchise, with former bosses Bruce Boudreau and Dale Hunter each experimenting with the Caps’ systems. However, it’s clear that current coach Adam Oates knows how to bring the best out of his captain.
Oates is the man who took one of the best left wing players in the world and changed him into one of the best right wing players in the world. That took some doing. Reinventing Ovechkin brought the “Great Eight” a third Hart Memorial Trophy last season. By reinventing Ovechkin, Oates gave the opposition a new problem, a less predictable Ovi to handle.
“It took me a long time to get used to it, but I had patience and my linemates had patience,” Ovechkin told The Edmonton Journal regarding his switching of positions. “We figured it out. I am used to scoring goals and I had to think of doing things differently. You get different angles for your shot from right wing.”
And those shots are coming in at an alarming rate and from all over the place. He’s on course to hit the 550 shot mark this season (that would be a career best), and he has at least five shots on goal in seven of the 10 games he’s played.
Ovechkin’s best ever NHL season was the 2007-08 campaign when he racked up 65 goals and 47 assists. He can eclipse that total this year. Nobody has hit the 70-goal mark in a single season since Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny each scored 76 in the 1992-93 term.
If Ovechkin doesn’t punch in 70 goals this season, it’s just a matter of time before he does.