It's not a surprise to see Alex Ovechkin's name at the top of the NHL's scoring list (entering play on Tuesday, he trails Henrik Sedin by six points for the league lead) given that he's finished in the top three in three of his first four seasons in the NHL. It could be a surprise, however, to see him up there this season, when he's played in 10 fewer games than the other top scorers in the league.
Can a player who has already won two MVP awards and a scoring title still have a breakout season? Well, no, not really, but if it were possible, it would be what Ovechkin is doing right now. Earlier in the year there was a legitimate discussion as to whether or not he could score 50 goals in 50 games, as well as the possibility of him hitting the 70-goal plateau. Thanks to an injury and a two-game suspension, neither of those milestones will be hit this year, but that doesn't mean he still isn't having (statistically) the best season of his career, and by a pretty wide margin.
"The thing about Alex is, he perseveres," said Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau. "In every game, the best defensive players are playing against him. Every team talks before the game about how they're going to try to stop him. Yet he still does what he does. There are a lot of great players in the league, but I don't think anyone is the complete package like Alex."
Currently, Ovechkin is lapping the field with an 1.63 points-per-game average, a number that nobody else in the league is even remotely close to at this point. He's been at the top of the league in points-per-game the past two seasons, but the gap between him and the rest of the league has always been minimal (last year he led Evgeni Malkin by .01 points, and led Sidney Crosby by the same margin the year before). Here's how the gap looks as of right now:
Alex Ovechkin: 1.63
Henrik Sedin: 1.46
Daniel Sedin: 1.41
Joe Thornton: 1.26
Sidney Crosby: 1.26
His averages in previous years have been 1.31, 1.12, 1.37, and 1.39.
"I hope when this season is over it is not looked at as my best personal year, but as the best year for our team," said Ovechkin before the Capitals' game against the Islanders. "We want to win the Stanley Cup."