Since coming back from the 2014 Olympic break, the Washington Capitals have looked like the same inconsistent side they have been all year, even though they have come out with two wins over the Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins. In each game, they have seemingly attempted to give away multiple-goal leads after starting out in the first period as a dominant side, and there is no real reason to believe the Capitals will quit on their roller coaster style of play at any time for the rest of the season.
What is also extremely clear is that Alexander Ovechkin will be the deciding factor in whether the Capitals continue to win games, and ultimately whether or not they make the 2014 NHL Playoffs.
During the last two games, Ovechkin has come out with his pants on fire, showing an initiative to score goals that has left behind any thought of an Olympic hangover. In the first game back, he put up one goal and two assists with four shots in 17:37 on the ice, and ultimately scored the game-winning goal late in the third period. Come game two, the Russian was once again a menace on the scoreboard, putting up two goals and a staggering total of nine shots in 19:52 of play. There has been no stopping the 28-year-old, as he has shown a hardworking initiative and level of motivation that makes scoring relatively easy for a player of his skill level.
Over the past two games, Ovechkin took 21 percent of Washington’s total shots, scored 33 percent of their goals, and been directly involved by scoring or assisting on 56 percent of all goals the team scored. For the entirety of the season, the Capitals have now scored 172 goals, including 51 goals from their power play. Of these totals, Ovechkin has scored 25 percent of total goals, been directly involved in 37.8 percent of all goals, scored 33.3 percent of all power play goals and been involved directly in 58.8 percent of all power play goals. These are eye-popping totals that cannot be ignored, and certainly holds up the fact that if Ovechkin is not involved in creating offensive chances, this Capitals team is not going to score.
Furthermore, more than just being a huge factor in ensuring that the Capitals simply put pucks in the back of the net, Ovechkin scoring or assisting almost ensures victory for Washington. In games that the star forward has scored, Washington has a record of 22-7-4, and in games that he has a point, the team has a record of 23-10-6. This means that the organization has secured 66.67 percent of points when Ovechkin is on the stat sheet, a total that would put them in second in the Eastern Conference with 81 points if carried out over the 61 games played to date.
On the flip side, the Capitals have a record of 3-11-3 when Ovechkin plays but does not record a point, which means the team has picked up 26.5 percent of available points when its star player doesn’t score, which equates to 22 points over an 82-game schedule. Additionally, they have averaged a total of 1.53 goals per game when their star plays but doesn’t contribute, which pales in comparison to the 3.56 goals per game average when he does contribute.
With Washington currently sitting one point out of the last playoff spot in the East, and only six points out of the league’s third playoff spot, there is no doubting they need Ovechkin to produce. After all, they have tried to switch through three goaltenders this year, find a permanent third linemate for Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, find stabilizing defensive partners and many other things, but it seems that only one thing assures victory for Washington. And that is Ovechkin putting pucks in the back of the net, or at least helping teammates do so.