I had heard for weeks that the Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin was going to light up the Olympics for Russia. Then the tournament started and now the quarterfinals are on Wednesday and hey, we are still waiting.
Through four games, the "Great 8" has two points so far. For quite a few players, that would not be so bad but this is Alex Ovechkin. He was supposed to have all these goals but he has only one. After digging into the IIHF statistics, there were a few other anomalies as well besides ExtraSkater.
Numbers Don't Lie
It is a fact that Ovechkin is actually putting up at or above average shots per game and scoring chances. However that shooting percentage is under five percent (1 for 21) which is not unusual for the Capitals' captain but is startling on the big stage (Sochi). Remember, he is not being asked to play a more defensive role like say Zach Parise or even Sidney Crosby. That is far from the case. Ovechkin has the green light from everywhere and anywhere. He is playing almost 20 minutes a night (19:32 right now) and yet the Russian just cannot find the back of the net.
Out of the 21 shots on net and a few of those opportunities that went wide or hit a post, Ovechkin has had 12 or 13 scoring chances. Like I said, the puck should have gone into the back of the net more than once. Granted, you are much more likely to run into a hot goalie during the Olympics than in the NHL regular season. That is just how it works. Any time there is a tournament that occurs every four years just leaves room for a lot of the unexpected.
What Happens NEXT?
That is the $64,000 question. Finland is a defensive heavy, counter attack opponent. They can score goals but they can also frustrate you with team defense and goaltending. This is a major test for a Russian squad that has had issues scoring in this tournament. Add in the pressure of the home crowd and those sticks get gripped a little tighter. Ovechkin has felt that heat but if Russia should fail, there is going to be a considerable backlash that could create an NHL hangover for him and other Russian players. It is something to keep an eye out on.
Russia still would have to likely face Sweden and then potentially the Canada/USA winner. Now that would be some gauntlet where offense will be still at a premium. At least, Alex Ovechkin will still pile on the shots for box pool owners because that does help some. As for the Capitals, what effect will the Olympics have on Ovechkin. That honestly depends on the result. Watch what happens next!