Scouring the game log of Alex Ovechkin’s decade-long career, there have been few prolonged scoring droughts.
The Washington Capitals captain is without a goal or assist in his past four games, the fifth time in his 687-game career he has been held pointless for that long. If he fails to get one against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN), it will be the longest slump of his career, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Unsurprisingly, Ovechkin’s drought coincides with Washington getting just one win from its last three contests, and only scoring seven total goals.
The lack of production probably has something to do with his lack of shots on goal (some hardcore analysis there, I know.) Ovechkin fired 24 pucks on net over his first four games of the season, and scored five times; over the last four games he’s put just seven on net and none, as mentioned above, have rippled mesh.
There are reasons, however, why nobody’s doing the customary “WHAT’S WRONG WITH OVI?” freakout. One is that the Caps are playing pretty sound hockey under Barry Trotz; they’re a more structured group that’s conceding fewer shots per game, and have compiled a solid 4-2-2 record.
Another reason is that Ovechkin’s contributing in other ways. Trotz has raved about No. 8’s physicality, which was on display during Sunday’s loss in Vancouver:
Ovechkin also has a team-high 60.1 Corsi For percentage and leads all skaters in hits, with 33. (Lest we forget he does lead the team in goals, with five.) It’s because of those contributions that Trotz figures Ovi will soon snap his slump — although the coach did acknowledge the slump was occurring.
“He’s playing the right way,” Trotz explained. “You see him blocking shots, defensively he’s way better in his commitment level there. On the forecheck, he’s using the body, separating people.
“[Ovechkin] hasn’t scored in the past four games, but he’s had good looks. He’s trying to be maybe a little too fine with his shot. That’s a lot of our guys in the last couple games. They’re down the pipe. Those will go in. We keep getting looks, they’ll go in.”