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Alex Ovechkin faces scoring struggles against playoff teams

Jan 31, 2011, 6:16 PM EDT

Alex Ovechkin

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.

(click to enlarge)

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.

  1. stakex - Feb 1, 2011 at 1:54 AM

    Washington as a whole is not playing well against good teams… so it stands to reason Ovechkin is going to have less production against said teams this year. Not to mention he is the main Washington threat, and the best teams are certainly going to play him very tough defensivly. Throw in the fact that Washingtons system is easy to defend, and you get the perfect storm of why Ovechkin has lower numbers against the better teams this year.

    However, If anyone wants to question Ovechkins production against playoff teams over his career they need only look at his playoff record: 20 goals 20 assist 40 points in 28 games. At that pace, he would have over 60 goals and 120 points in the regular season, and thats in games that count more then any other. I keep hearing about how Ovechkin needs to pick it up, and all that when it comes to Washinton losing in the playoffs….. but the stats clearly say its not his fault, and that his playoff/big game performance is just fine.

    • jpelle82 - Feb 1, 2011 at 3:38 PM

      those playoff games were in the past. he is a one trick pony and the league has figured him out. he doesnt work hard in the off season and has done nothing in his game to adapt to how defenders are playing him. typical russian mentality. he will fade away

  2. govtminion - Feb 1, 2011 at 7:50 PM

    I don’t know about ‘fade away’, but he does seem to have hit a development plateau at a time when players of his caliber like Stamkos and Crosby are getting better and better. On the other hand, I keep thinking about that article a while back here about him getting cortizone shots in his wrist, and can’t help but wonder if perhaps he’s playing hurt- and an offseason to heal up might put him back to last year’s pace. It sure worked for Tim Thomas, for example.

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