. That’s all Alex Ovechkin is on pace to finish the 2023-24 season with at this rate.
Ovechkin’s never finished a season with a measly 15 goals. He’s never fallen below the 20-goal marker, not even in condensed seasons. And now, for the first time in his career, he’s gone 13 straight games without a goal. The five goals he has at this point aren’t even all that impressive — only three were scored with a goaltender in net.
Even if 38-year-old Ovechkin is far removed from his prime, this is a stark, unexpected decline for one of the greatest goal scorers of all time. So, what’s behind the aging superstar’s drop-off? Is this harsh reality the new normal? Is there a chance he can turn it around in the second half of the season?
The elephant in the room is his age. Not every player makes it to 38 in the NHL, and if they do, they’re often a shell of themselves at this point in their career. Aging curves — outlined in the work of Evolving Hockey’s Luke and Josh Younggren or Cam Lawrence, now of the Columbus Blue Jackets — support that. These curves tell us a player tends to peak in their early-to-mid-20s and starts to decline in their 30s with a sharp downtick in their late 30s. It’s worth noting the sample of skaters still playing into their late 30s is obviously a lot smaller to work with.