WAS: 72 games, 50 goals, 109 points, +45
Looking back: It was Ovechkin’s most efficient season – when he was in the lineup. Coach Bruce Boudreau scaled back his ice time by more than a minute from the previous two seasons, and yet Ovechkin scored at a 124-point pace, which would have been the second-most since the lockout (Joe Thornton had 125 in 2005-06). Ovechkin also put 160 less shots on net than the year before, but still managed 50 goals because his shooting percentage was the second best of his career. Adding Mike Knuble to the top line and Nicklas Backstrom’s increased willingness to shoot provided a boost to Ovechkin’s already electric ability to rack up points in bunches.
All that said, 2009-10 may end being the second-worst season on Ovechkin’s career when he is done re-writing team record books years from now (Year Two is likely to be the worst unless he has a major injury at some point). His reputation on the ice took a hit because of the suspensions and ejections. His reputation off the ice took a hit because of a couple incidents in Vancouver during the Olympics (and a perceived unwillingness to make time for the English-speaking media). His teams also fell short, both in Washington and in the two international competitions.
Looking forward: Hell hath no fury like a two-time league MVP scorned? That’s certainly a possibility. Ovechkin missed out on a third straight Hart trophy, despite a sizable advantage in points per game and, for the more statistically inclined, GVT (and part two). Given how strong the Washington lineup will be again this season, betting against Ovechkin to win the Richard and Ross trophies might not be the smartest move. He, like the rest of his teammates, will probably have to wait until April before the real redemption begins. Another 60-plus goals and a new career-high in points could be a reasonable projection.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
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