If you simply read the title and agreed with me, you can go now. You don’t have to read any more of this potential rant, because boy, someone said that thing again. Let’s just say, those within the mainstream hockey media base their information on how good a player or team is with completely different information from people like me. I like to think of it in more insulting terms, but I won’t go there.
Anywho, I was watching Barry Melrose on Sportscenter after Washington’s Game 4 overtime win over the New York Islanders when he stated that he was critical of Ovechkin for not having as much of an impact in this series. After Game 4, Ovechkin scored his second goal of the series and is now second only to Nicklas Backstrom in team scoring in the playoffs. If we divide playoff goals with playoff games in the series and multiply it, by say, 82 for the number of games in a regular season, Ovechkin is on a 41-goal scoring pace: you know, just like he’s been doing throughout the vast majority of his career.
If he didn’t score two nights ago, Ovechkin would still be roughly at a 21-goal scoring pace. That shooting percentage of his could have gone from a very good but very suspicious 10.6% at even strength to a “WHAT ON EARTH IS GOING ON!!!” 5.3%. To put things in perspective, the league average even strength shooting percentage throughout the entire NHL regular season has consistently hit about 7.7%. Ovechkin’s two goals have all come from even strength and he has done so while putting 19 shots on goal (nine more than second place Nicklas Backstrom’s 10) with 13 of them being of the scoring chance variety (one more than Backstrom). If you add all the other shots, Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov and his lack of good puck possession have 17 total shot attempts at even strength. That man Ovechkin? How does 41 sound? In a 60 minute basis, that’s 34.7 individual shot attempts!!! I think that’s pretty good. Don’t you love playing with numbers in small sample sizes?
So while people keep watching how Johnny Boychuk made some fantastic plays to shut down Ovechkin in Game 3, let’s keep ignoring how almost all of Ovechkin’s teammates are not doing anything right on the offensive end. This isn’t anything new and it show’s miserably on the Rob Vollman usage chart that there is nothing going right beyond Washington’s top forward line and the Karl Alzner-Matt Niskanen defense pair. Oh, and Braden Holtby just so happens to be a decent goaltender. Add in Eric Fehr’s 100th shoulder injury and Barry Trotz’s quest to completely ignore Andre Burakovsky’s hockey career and you have the true reasons why Washington could struggle to get out of round one if things stay the same. But, you know, everyone else will keep blaming it all on Ovechkin. We all know he’s such a choke artist come playoff time.
Ben covers the Washington Capitals at the hockey writers. He has been blogging about the NHL since March 2013. Follow him @DCSportsDork