Washington Capitalshas been in the top three in terms of regular season standings in the Eastern Conference for the past four seasons. This season, however, is a completely different story for the Capitals. Based on the current standings in the East, Washington is reeling on the eighth and final seed. Having accumulated 81 points with eight games to go, they are just a point ahead of ninth place Buffalo Sabres. Though the season is quite disappointing for owners of Washington Capitals tickets, being in the playoffs after an up and down season is something to cheer about.
The team started the season on a strong note this season going 7-0 but inconsistencies among the players hounded the great start of the team. This resulted to the firing of head coach Bruce Boudreau and was replaced by Capitals legend Dale Hunter. During the course of the season, Washington has had strings of losing streaks of three to four games.
As of late, the team has shown some consistencies and this is led by two-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner Alexander Ovechkin. Ovechkin was the first overall pick of the Capitals in 2004 and quickly transformed the team into a powerhouse. He, though, has been overly criticized in the past two seasons, most especially this season. When the team stunk for most of this season, Ovechkin has been blamed and it is just fair. His production has been down all season and his leadership skills for a team that needs one has been questioned. Washington has lacked a spark for long periods but Ovechkin, as one of the captains, has not provided that.
Despite Ovechkin’s overall struggles this season, there were times when he willed the team to victories. When Washington badly needed the old Ovechkin, he was able to provide it. In their upcoming game versus the Philadelphia Flyers, the 26-year-old former MVP is ranked third in goals scored since December 15 with 23. In that span, only scoring leader Evgeni Malkin and goal-scoring leader Steven Stamkos has scored more.
In the past seven games of Washington, they have won four games and Ovechkin is one of the reasons for their recent success. He has scored six goals and dished an assist. Aside from his statistical production, Ovechkin is also producing in a manner that reminds the people of his play a few years back. He was one of the most dynamic players in the past years and he has shown it in his past games. In his recent games, Ovechkin has scored off the rush several times and has blasted pucks past the goaltenders.
Even though Ovechkin gets most of the criticisms for the struggles of the team, the rest of the guys in Washington are also accountable. After Ovechkin, the scoring has a big drop-off and with Nicklas Backstorn still injured, the scoring woes continue. Ovechkin has 32 goals for the season and coming in second in that department is 18 goals, both by Alexander Semin and Troy Brouwer. Making matters worse, Backstorm has not played in almost three months but he is still third in point production.
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