x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

NHL: Washington Capitals gain steam thanks to Alex Ovechkin stoking the fire

It seems the old Alex Ovechkin is back. He has 17 goals and 24 points in his past 16 games to pull the Washington Capitals into first place in the NHL's Southeast Division, explains Gregg Patton.

The return of Alex Ovechkin's scoring touch has revived the Washington Capitals' season.
The return of Alex Ovechkin's scoring touch has revived the Washington Capitals' season.

Capitals gain steam thanks to Ovechkin's fire

While Pittsburgh Penguins fans wait nervously for Sidney Crosby's return, his old nemesis has found a renewed burst of energy, perhaps even rekindling the "best player" debate.

Alex Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals languished as non-contenders early in the year.

The Capitals were last in the Eastern Conference after the first 11 games of the lockout-shortened 48-game season.

As for Ovechkin, since winning the Hart Memorial (most valuable player) and the Maurice Richard trophies (top goal scorer) back-to-back in 2007/08 and 2008/09, the 27-year-old Russian had lost some of his trademark fire and his prodigious goal-scoring touch.

It seems the old Ovechkin is back. He has 17 goals and 24 points in his past 16 games, pulling into a tie with Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay for the goal-scoring title with 26. He has also pulled the Caps all the way to first place in the Southeast Division, where they can cement the No 3 seed for the play-offs.

Last week, Crosby met the media for the first time since a March 30 encounter, when a deflected puck broke his jaw and blew out several teeth. He had no return date to report.

"I'm not too worried about the teeth," said the 25-year-old superstar. "I'm worried about getting healed. Hopefully that's sooner than later."

Crosby is still considered the favourite to win the Hart. But there are still two weeks to play in the regular season and here comes Ovechkin, again.