Four weeks ago, the Washington Capitals sat 14th in the Eastern Conference and 29th in the NHL with a 10-14-1 record. Since then they've strung together a 10-3-1 record to move to the top of the weak Southeast Division and if they keep rolling like they are they'll enter the playoffs with home ice advantage thanks to that 3rd seed for division leaders. Easily the biggest factor in the Caps resurgence has been Alex Ovechkin going ham.
In his first 25 games of the season, Ovechkin had notched 9 goals and 20 points for a goals/game of 0.36 and a points/game of 0.8. His goal pace was looking like it would be a career low (32 goals, 0.41 goals/game in 2010-11; 28 goals, 0.49 goals/game in 2011-12) and he'd have the lowest points/game average of his career (previous low of 0.83 in 2011-12). Critics piled on, but none worse than Mike Milbury ripping him apart on national television:
Ovechkin's performance was disheartening to see. His talents are indisputable, and to see a player in his prime not scoring like he used to do just plain sucks for fans. Well, he's back (or at least temporarily). Taking a look at his last 14 games, Ovechkin has notched 16 (!) goals and 23 points for a goals/game pace of 1.14 and a points/game pace of 1.64. That's a stretch of games that reminds us of his 65-goal, 110+ points form. As hockey fans, this is great. We want to see the best perform their best, and Ovechkin is giving us shades of 2007-08. With 9 games left, he's not only gotten himself into the Maurice Richard and Art Ross races, but the Hart Trophy race as well.