When the Washington Capitals found themselves locked in a 2-2 deadlock with the New York Islanders on Saturday night there was only one real option as to where the game decider would come from. That option was right winger Alexander Ovechkin, who took the onus on himself to decide the game with a shot that went right through the legs of a helpless Anders Nilsson at 2:07 in the overtime period.
The goal was Ovechkin’s fourth game-winning goal of the season, gave him the NHL lead for goals scored, and further cemented his immense case for the Hart Memorial Trophy, otherwise known as the NHL MVP Award.
In terms of statistical contribution there is no doubting that Ovechkin has been an absolute machine thus far as he has compiled 21 goals, eight assists, 138 shots, eight power play goals, seven power play assists, and 21:18 time on the ice per game. This contribution has been crucial to leading the Capitals to rank ninth in the NHL at 2.8 goals per game — despite no other player on the roster scoring more than ten goals thus far — and fourth in power play efficiency at 23.3 percent as the sniper has served as the quarterback.
Furthermore, his goal compilation has compiled 27.6 percent of the Capitals’ total goals scored during the 2013-14 season, which is far ahead of Alexander Steen at second place with 23.2 percent of the St. Louis Blues‘ goals. No other player has even scored 20 percent of their team’s goals, which makes it extremely obvious that Washington is entirely reliant on Ovechkin scoring goals. And by extension their win-loss record has been decided by how the Russian performs.
This reliance on Ovechkin to score has been explicitly shown by the team compiling an 11-4-1 record when he scores as opposed to a 1-7-1 record when he plays but does not score. In addition to this record his contribution is shown by the fact that Washington has scored a measly 1.8 goals per game when their top scorer does not score while they put in 3.5 goals per game when he does bury the puck.
Each of these contributions rank extremely high on the list of ranks within the NHL and compile a case for the MVP on paper that cannot be argued with. When it is also considered that Washington head coach Adam Oates has made sure that Ovechkin is on the ice for nearly every late game situation, whether that be on the offensive or defensive end of the ice, it can be made sure that the winger is the heartbeat of the Capitals.
So while other players such as Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, Ryan Getzlaf or Henrik Zetterberg can also claim to be having great seasons, there is no doubting that Ovechkin sits miles ahead of the pack in terms of value to his team. And for this he is currently far ahead of the pack in the race for the Hart Memorial Trophy.