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Posted at 02:05 PM ET, 03/05/2012

Alex Ovechkin: Not great, and barely noticeable

Post columnist Thomas Boswell was asked during today’s lengthy live Q&A what he thinks of Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin’s apparent “‘Good 8’ holding pattern,” as one reader put it — no longer great, not developing or adjusting.

His answer follows, and you can read the rest of the chat here.

I assume the Great Eight is gone and the good-to-very-good Ovechkin will be around a long time. Will he be good or very good?

His point-per-game totals, starting with his rookie year: 1.31, 1.12, 1.37, 1.39, 1.51, 1.08 and an awful (for him) 0.80 so far this year. He’s on a pace for 62 points. His points progression the last five years is: 112, 110, 109, 85 and now a pace for 62.

That’s just as distressing as it looks.

His body has always taken a beating. He lived very hard for several years. I assume that’s improved. The fact that GMGM would mention his weight — and give his past weights last week — is a sign that the Caps have been concerned about his conditioning at other times. Yes, the league has figured out some of his favorite moves, especially when he’s flying up the left wing.

However, the biggest problem is that for large chunks of many game Ovechkin JUST ISN’T THERE. You don’t FEEL him in the game. I’ve watched — usually on tape — more than 100 periods of the Caps season so far. (Narrowly defined: What a waste of time.) I’m shocked at how often I said, “Where the hell is Ovechkin?” Many times he’s on the ice and you don’t even notice him; that NEVER happened in his MVP season.

Yes, he misses Backstrom. Yes, he’s still very good. Yes, this could be his worst year in his career. But it’s fair to ask whether he’ll ever have another 100-point year. Or 90-point year?

If comments like these, which plenty of people make, annoy him, then that’s good. He needs to play better. So does the whole team. They are on the verge of missing the playoffs when their talent level STILL ought to make that unthinkable.

These are the NHL point leaders for the previous three regular seasons:

Capitals...336.
San Jose...335.
Vancouver...320.
Detroit...318.
Chicago...313.
Boston...310.
Pittsburgh...306.

How can you have this much talent and, even with injuries, NOT make the playoffs and be (temporarily) behind the Winnipeg Jets?

If the Caps want to make Bruce Boudreau look good, they’re doing a wonderful job.

They can still make the playoffs. But not if they follow an inspired comeback with a 5-0 loss, then play hard but lose 1-0 for their first back-to-back home ice loses in 11 years.

The next two games are home aren’t “must win.” But pretty close.

More from Post Sports:
Tomas Vokoun: ‘I feel pretty good’
Hunter got right response from Ovechkin
Backstrom in Sweden to visit family
Flyers defeat Washington 1-0
Ovechkin: ‘My mistake cost us two points’

By Post Sports Editors  |  02:05 PM ET, 03/05/2012

 
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