Photo: Amanda Bowen
What is there to say about Alex Ovechkin’s season that could not be said in 50-point, bright-red, italicized comic sans?
Let’s do it.
|20.2||time on ice per game|
|54.3||5v5 shot-attempt percentage|
|63.4||5v5 goal percentage|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows various metrics for the player over the course of the 2015-16 season. A short description of each chart:
Alex Ovechkin scored 50 goals. If you want to talk about his season, you have to start there. Fifty goals. Since 2012, only three players have managed that feat, and they’re all Alex Ovechkin.
Now at age 30, Ovechkin is due for a decline, but we’ve been saying that for years and he’s proved us wrong every time.
Goals are up, possession is up, shot attempts are steady, and assists are too. This is a renaissance for Ovechkin, in spite of predictions to the contrary. If the piles and piles of goals hadn’t already proved it, Ovi’s ability to shake the trajectory of aging scorers and shirk the dreary expectations of pee-pants pundits make him a historically great player, one of the very best of all time.
Had things gone another way, we might have spent this space lamenting the long slow decline of a player who no longer betters his team but instead hoards his cash from a historically gluttonous contract.
Instead, Ovechkin is so good so often it’s hard not to be blasé about it. The Hunter and Oates years are now a blip, a temporary interruption that reflected not the player but the structure (or lack thereof) around him. Any reasonable person would have projected Ovechkin to drop under 50 goals this season, but Ovi’s 2015-16 defies reason.
If I had to pick a nit from 2015-16, it’d be assists. Ovechkin recorded just two primary apples during 5-on-5 this season. He did that despite having (arguably) his best linemates since 2010 and his highest 5-on-5 point production since 2013. You might construe that as a dig on Ovi as a playmaker (“one-dimensional”), but I think it speaks more profoundly as a challenge to Oshie and Backstrom next season than to Ovi himself.
It’s more encouragement than criticism. It’s quite possible that Ovi will maintain or even grow his already absurd scoring pace. The open secret that is the Ovi Shot from the Ovi Spot still works, his passing is still far better than he’s given credit for, his success in 2015-16 wasn’t driven by shooting percentage, and his linemates’ even-strength production was below par.
An inevitable fall into mediocrity is coming for Ovechkin, just as it did for Pearl Jam after 1998’s Yield, but until then, well, IS PARTY NOW.
We’ve still got the Ovi Shot from the Ovi Spot.
And the manic celebrations
And whatever the hell this was.
Ovi is the heart and soul of the Washington Capitals franchise. That heart is strong and that soul is young. Bring on 2016-17.
p.s. Alex Ovechkin scored 50 goals.
Thank you, Ovi. High five.
How much longer can he keep it up? What’s at fault behind Ovi’s lack of primary assists? What crazy stuff will he do next season? Who are the top 5 best rappers of all time?
Read more: Japers Rink
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