Alex Ovechkin has received a huge amount of criticism over the past few seasons. Most of this heat has stemmed from disappointment over the forward's inability to recapture the elite form we witnessed for the better part of five seasons. A lot of this criticism has been deserved as Ovechkin has looked lost on the ice, seemingly uninterested in giving it his all.
The pattern persisted into the 2013 seasons, with analysts such as Mike Milbury calling out Ovechkin for his play. Milbury, unsurprisingly, crossed a line by stating Ovechkin needs to "act like a man." It's safe to say other analysts might have thought even worse of the forward's game, but they were smart enough to keep it off of national television.
How has Ovechkin responded to his critics? He started by calling out Milbury's lack of success as a GM. He then went on a tear, turning his game around and silencing his critics – including Milbury.
Prior to any action on Sunday, April 7th, Alex Ovechkin has scored 41 points in 38 games (7th in the NHL). More impressively, he has scored 23 goals, a mark that ranks 2nd in the NHL trailing just Steven Stamkos (25).
Things didn't start out this way for Ovechkin. When the season started in January, Ovechkin seemingly missed the memo. He opened 2013 with just three points in seven games. His February was better (12 points in 12 games), but he still had trouble lighting the lamp. Criticism poured down on him. Though his stats would make most players proud, they were simply a continuation of a slide that only started because he set the bar so high for himself in the first place.
The calendar flipped to March and it was starting to look like Ovechkin's elite form might truly be a thing of the past. In his first eight games in March, he had two goals and five assists.
Then we hit the middle of March and everything seemed to come together. All of the goals came flooding back. Since March 17th (11 games) he has scored 13 times. He strung together a streak of five games and later a streak of three games where he scored at least one goal in each contest. This run also included a point streak of nine games. Since March 17th, Ovechkin has 19 points in 11 games.
The Ovechkin of old is back. He's silencing his critics by posting some ridiculous numbers, including a hat trick on April 6th against Florida. Whether or not this success will continue is up for debate, but at the very least Ovechkin's run should keep analysts such as Milbury off his back.