Question of the day: What’s happened to Alex Ovechkin?

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Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times


What’s happened to Alexander Ovechkin?

You mean other than having his disembodied head stuffed in a kid’s school locker in those CCM skate ads that are funny yet also somehow scary?

And becoming one of the chosen few whom the NHL markets to death, with starring roles in the Winter Classic and the HBO series leading up to the New Year’s Day game?

The Washington Capitals’ superstar is being defended more tightly, is what has happened. And his team has played poorly defensively much of the season, certainly until the last few weeks.

It might seem obvious, but it bears repeating: If you don’t have the puck, you can’t score, and the Capitals too often didn’t have the puck. They’ve tightened up defensively and have won four of their last five games.

Ovechkin broke his eight-game scoring drought on Monday and if the Capitals continue to play a sound, structured defensive game, he will get more scoring chances.

It’s a long season. Or it should be for the Capitals if Ovechkin accepts the notion that good defense will produce good offensive production.

[Updated at 10:16 a.m.

Chris Korman, Baltimore Sun

He was in GQ.

And he didn’t just appear briefly amid the glossy opulence wearing some $479 sweater and a wristwatch worth what most of us make in two months. No, the magazine wrote a whole story declaring that soon even people who don’t know hockey will know Ovie. The profile even threw in some interesting tidbits about his love life with a pair of girls.

Time was, GQ also tells us, that Ovechkin needed to play hockey to get away from a culture in his homeland that would have turned him into a bodyguard –- or worse.

Ovechkin has made it, and he knows it. He’s too good, though, not to find a new reason to go back to working with the passion that helped get him here in the first place.]

[Updated at 12:58 p.m.

Harvey Fialkov, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Sure, Sid ‘The Kid’ Crosby’s remarkable run at a Wayne Gretzky-Joe DiMaggio-like 51-game scoring streak has made it look like Alexander ‘The Great’ Ovechkin has turned into a fourth-line checker, but let’s get real.

Ovechkin has spoiled the world while averaging more than 50 goals in his first five seasons and winning the most outstanding player award two years running.

Sure, the hard-nosed Russian ONLY has 14 goals and 42 points in 39 games, while posting a plus-11. He does lead the league in shots missed and amazingly has just two power-play goals.

But Ovechkin is fourth with 126 hits, and the Caps, despite a recent slide, are 4-0-1 in their last five, with Ovechkin notching goals in his last two games.

Ask the Panthers coach if he’d like to have a slumping player with Ovechkin’s numbers.

Bank on Ovechkin finishing with more goals than his coach’s between-period expletives.]

Photo: Alex Ovechkin. Credit: Geoff Burke / US Presswire