There’s a sizable group of people out there who seem to swoop around Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals like vultures circle a wounded animal, waiting for their next opportunity to pick away during a moment of weakness. Maybe it’s some North American-Russian rivalry. Perhaps it’s because Ovechkin clearly brings a careless (sometimes reckless) spirit to the game. Or maybe it’s because his team only won one playoff series so far in the sniper’s already prolific career.
So it’s not surprising to read a post about Ovechkin’s struggles, but when it comes from an absolute authority on the team – and the stance is justified by stats rather than subjective opinions – then it’s time to take notice.
Japers’ Rink took a deeper look at the struggles of Ovechkin and his recurring center Nicklas Backstrom today and found that the superstar Russian produces far less points (and a comparatively miserable plus/minus rating) when he faces playoff caliber teams rather than bottom feeders.
Even if it’s a small sample, the numbers are pretty stark. Check out these numbers via J.P.
In Ovechkin’s defense, Backstrom isn’t prospering either, having only scored one goal in 27 games against teams that would be in the playoffs if they began today. Those individual struggles have extended to the team’s results two, as J.P. points out that the Capitals only have two wins against playoff teams since November 26th.
If Capitals fans need a light at the end of the tunnel, perhaps they should turn to the eventual return of injured winger Alexander Semin. While the team’s other two big scorers score much more against weaker opponents, the much maligned winger scored 13 out of his 18 goals this season against playoff teams, according to J.P.