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Should Caps Fans Be Concerned About Ovechkin?
A major concern following last season was the overall drop in production for star players such as Mike Green, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin and Alexander Ovechkin. While the Capitals are only a few games into the new season, there have been some grumblings in reference to Ovechkin’s production so far. In six games, Ovie has three goals with five points, and a -1 +/-rating. If Alex underperforms again this year, it will not make or break the team (at least during the regular season) as it has in years past.
This isn’t saying that if he completely underperforms that the team and fans shouldn’t ignore it. He is the highest paid player on the roster and he is also the captain. With that, there is a responsibility to produce numbers and set the example for the rest of the team. He should be at least a 30-goal scorer and end the season with a minimum of 70 points. But realistically, don’t be surprised if he doesn’t have another 50-goal season this year, next year, or even again in his career.
Aside from the typical decline in production as players get older, one reason why Ovechkin isn’t likely to hit numbers like in years past is due to the cut in his playing time. Bruce Boudreau has stated that Alex will only play anywhere from 17-19 minutes a game instead of the 22 minutes he was seeing in previous season. This is good for two reasons. The first is that there will be less wear and tear on his body heading into the playoffs. The other reason is because this is a sign that others on this roster can pile on the points. Raise your hand if you had Jason Chimera leading the team in goals after six games. Now raise your hand if you had Dennis Wideman second in assists as well as have the best +/- rating on the team after six games. These numbers might not continue at this rate for these guys but don’t be surprised if others on the team not named Ovechkin or Semin outshine the stars.
The team and fans should take pride in knowing that it no longer has to completely fall on Ovechkin to either produce or fail. With the focus on this year’s team being on the sum of its parts, the machine that is the Washington Capitals will run more efficiently and be more durable when it matters most: The playoffs.