Friday, April 17, 2009

Ovechkin? He's a Puck-Vortex

I hear all the hype. The Washington Capitals Alex Ovechkin is the best player in hockey. He had 56 goals in the regular season - 10 more then the 2nd best goal scorer. He's the great hope of the NHL - a marketable young superstar - the next Great One....

I'm not sure I'm on board with any of this.

Let me explain:

Nik Antropav has 7 goals in 53 shots on goal as a Ranger. That's a 13.2 scoring percentage. (He scores on 13.2% of his shots on goal).

Aaron Voros? 12.1% of his shots on goal end up in the net.

Markus Naslund? 11.2%

Zhnerdev? 10.5%

And those are the stats for the anemic - can't score - offensively challenged - New York Rangers.

And what is the same stat for that superstar, Alex Ovechkin? Just 10.6%. Per 100 shots, Nik Antropav would score almost 3 more goals than Ovechkin!
And Ovechkin's 10.6% is only the 9th best on his own team!
In other words - his shots on goal don't go in the net very often. At least, not when compared to other good players.

So why so many goals? Well, Ovechkin managed to launch a mind boggling 528 shots on goal this year. Now it takes skill to create a shot - so that does count for something. But what exactly? While keeping the puck away from the 8 other Capitals who score more often per shot than Ovechkin does - surely all those 528 shots must be generating some positive effect for the Capitals.

How about his plus-minus? That's where the superstar's value will show up. Or will it?
Ovechkin: 56 goals, and a plus minus of 9. Nine. That's it. The superstar double shifts all year and shoots 528 times for a net gain of 9 goals while he's on the ice.

Meanwhile - our own Ryan Callahan has a plus-minus of 8.

So I say the guy's no Superstar - he's a Puck Vortex. He's on the ice a lot and he shoots a lot - drawing the puck and valuable minutes away - like a whirlpool - from his more accurate shooting teammates.
So I say - let the guy have the puck - he's not one of the top 8 finishers on the Caps - so we could do a lot worse.
Go Rangers!


  1. I wrote a real long comment, and it got deleted, I am pissed.

    Anyway, in summation, I disagree with the take on Ovechkin, here are some reasons why.

    1) There is more to goal scoring then stats. For a superstar, a big thing is presence. Did they show up, did you know they were there. And I know with Ovechkin, last game, and every Caps game I have ever watched, I thought the same thing I did in the 1995 ALDS Yanks-Mariners that I did with Ken Griffey Junior, "He's back out on the ice again?! Doesn't his shift ever end?" (with griffey, "he's up"). It feels like he is always out there, always putting on pressure, and always being the best player on the ice. The great players always make their presence felt, and Ovechkin has done that in EVERY Caps-Rangers game I have ever watched. (Like the 4-0 game at the garden where he just willed the Caps to a comeback victory, including scoring the tying goal on a beautiful breakaway abusing Hank)

    2) Getting shots is important. The rangers refuse to shoot on the power play, so they don't score. They are usually very unselfish, and no one wants to shoot, and thus they are one of the worst scoring teams in the league. You have to get shots, and Ovechkin shoots from everywhere at anytime. He keeps constant pressure on the defense, and the goalie. And he gets a ton of bad goals to go in for him because of this.

    3)Look at who he plays against. You have to keep in mind, Ovechkin is ALWAYS facing the top defensive pairing, and checking forwards for the other team. Unlike Callahan or Antropov, he is always going up against a shutdown guy, which could hurt his percentage a bit.

    4) 13 shots in a playoff game?!?! It's crazy. They were keying on him. He was the KEY guy, and they couldn't stop him from making Hank have to stand on his head. Chris drury averages less than 3 shots a game in the regular season, Ovechkin got 13 in a playoff game against a good defensive team trying to limit his scoring.

    Not saying he is god or anything, but this one I have to differ. It's not like brodeur where I think the numbers are inflated. Ovechkin is a beast.

  2. Another thing on Ovechkin, most of his shots, it's not like he is taking a shot away from one of his "more accurate teammates". In most cases, he is creating a shot that NO ONE would have taken. Like in game one when he picked up a puck in the corner and skated out towards the blue line and no look flipped one on Hank. The shot had almost nothing on it, it bounced into hank, and he had a LOT of trouble with it, because he wasn't expecting it. No one on the caps shoots there, they just pass it back out to the blue line to try and set something up. When Ovechkin does take his more conventional shots, in the slot, 15-20 feet out, I am sure those numbers indicate he is close to, if not their top shooter.

  3. I see Nugman's points. Creating your own shot is a big deal - and Ovechkin may be the best EVER in that regard. And his plus-minus may not be top shelf because of his porous goalie. But still - all those shots - all that ice time - and just a plus 9?