(courtesy of Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)
It’s funny how quickly things can change in hockey. Whether a team drops out of a playoff spot after being in the top eight all season (see New Jersey), a one-team veteran dons another jersey (see Iginla, Morrow, Murray) or for the sake of this article, when a player goes from lackluster to what the kids call “beast mode”.
There is no hotter player in the NHL right now than Alex Ovechkin this much is obvious. Yet, it’s how much he’s turned it around these past few weeks which has brought him back into the limelight after being very much an outsider. Everything about the winger we know and love has come back full circle as he finds himself atop the scoring leaders tied with Steven Stamkos with 25 goals.
In his last 12 games, Ovi has found the back of the net 15 times while adding 6 helpers. On Saturday night against Florida, Ovechkin lit the lamp three times for his second hat-trick of the year. Last night, he scored two more goals, this time against Stamkos and the Lightning en route to a 4-2 win. His goals have also helped propel the Capitals from the conference basement to top of Southeast and 3rd in the Eastern Conference.
Ovechkin has also been named first star of the week by the NHL for scoring 7 goals in four games and finishing with 9 points. The 27-year-old leads the NHL in powerplay goals and points with 14 and 21 respectively.
His turnaround couldn’t have come at a better time for the Caps who have won 8 of their last 10 games and currently ride a 4-game win streak. They face an uphill climb however with their remaining schedule as they go up against six playoff-bound teams in their final nine games. With his sights set on a third Maurice Richard Trophy, Ovechkin could also be considered for the Hart Trophy as long-time rival, Sidney Crosby, is out indefinitely.
For now however, Caps and Ovi fans alike can rejoice that the Great 8 is still great.