What We Learned: Despite flashes of old, Alex Ovechkin is now predictable and pedestrian (Puck Daddy)

Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it. A lot was made about the Washington Capitals' first four games of the season, and not just because they didn't win any of them. The defense was bad, allowing 17 goals. The offense was worse, scoring just eight. And in the middle of it all was Alex Ovechkin, who labored through those first four games with a carousel of linemates that included everyone from Nick Backstrom and Marcus Johansson to Joey Crabb and Jay Beagle. All he had to show for it at the end of that was one measly assist, a secondary helper for Matt Hendricks in a 4-2 loss to Winnipeg. "What," everyone wondered, "is wrong with Alex Ovechkin?" It's become pretty common knowledge at this point that no one's ever going to put him up for the Hart again in his career barring some sort of miraculous turnaround, and even his staunchest supporters have to wonder what, exactly, happened to the guy who averaged 55 goals a year over the first five season he spent in the NHL. Not that his 38 goals last season is anything to sniff at, particularly given how much Dale Hunter seemed to delight in not giving him much of a chance offensively, and his time on ice per game dropped below 20 minutes. It seemed the hope was that bringing in a new coach like Adam Oates, who was a power play specialist as a player and therefore knows a thing or two about juicing offense, would return Ovechkin to the form that allowed him to light up the league. But it wasn't until yesterday's game with hapless Buffalo that Ovechkin and Oates finally found that old magic for a second. On a power play early in the third period, Mike Green fed him right in his wheelhouse at the top of the circle, and the shot was vintage Ovechkin. Low, hard, perfectly placed, unstoppable. This was the Ovechkin we want to remember, and visions of him firing home perfect one-timers from the Stamkos Spot is something most hockey fans would welcome as it danced through their heads. There was a lot of that kind of comment on Twitter as soon as the puck rippled the back of the net. The sad fact, though, is that these flashes of olden days Alex Ovechkin seems to be just about all we'll ever get from the guy any more.

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