Re-dedicated Ovechkin looks for bounce back season with Caps Staff

9/20/2011 10:49:57 PM

32 goal and 53 assists in 79 games; seems like great numbers, until you see who they belong to.

Those were Alex Ovechkin's totals from a year ago, both of which were career lows for the Russian sniper. But if Ovie has it his way, he'll never have totals that low again.

"Of course I want to change my game and take my numbers back," said Ovechkin. "It's something you always want and you have to work harder than you did the last year. Last year I was in a situation where you just think to be ready for the playoffs, and give all my emotions, power and best for playoff games. This year I just realized it wasn't working so I'm back to my old routine."

A year after the worst statistical season of his career, Ovechkin has re-dedicated himself for the Washington Capitals, looking to get back to the 50+ goal, 100+ point pace he was on the first five years of his career. And while training camp is still only a couple days old, teammates say they've seen a difference this year in Ovechkin's focus.

"He's been great," said Capitals defenceman Mike Green. "I noticed that he's paying attention to detail and really focused on that. We as his teammates notice that and look up to him."

It isn't just the guys on the ice that have seen the difference; Ovechkin's new focus has also made an impression on Caps head coach Bruce Boudreau. But Boudreau says not to worry, because in many ways, he's still the same old Ovie.

"He's 26 now and he's still fun-loving. He still enjoys life to the fullest. He's just a little more serious and I think as we all get older we get a little more serious, whether it's our bodies, our conditioning, or the way we live. And Alex is no different."

Ovechkin's re-dedication is a good thing for the Caps in more ways than one. Yes, it means that the two-time Hart and "Rocket" Richard Trophy winner will have a better shot at getting back to his league-leading point totals, but also for a team taking their cues from their captain, Ovechkin is setting a good example in training camp.

"I've seen him take it to levels in games where other guys can't reach, the way Alex just works," Caps forward Brooks Laich said. "You just want to get on the ice because you just want to follow this guy. He sets the tone and it's pretty easy for the rest of us to follow."