Alex Ovechkin just wrapped up one of the least productive seasons of his career. His 69 (nice) points were the second lowest total of his career in any non-lockout season. His 33 goals were just one more than the career-low he posted in 2010-11 (and in a lockout-shortened 2012-13). This all led to Ovechkin getting singled out by GM Brian MacLellan as a guy who needs to adapt his game in order to continue to succeed.
This brought me back to a question that was brought up earlier this season by an RMNB reader who is easily one of my top-500 favorite RMNB readers.
Ovi’s gonna end the season around 35 goals. Has he played better/worse than his 32 and 38 goal full seasons years back?
— Michael Reschly (@reschly) April 1, 2017
The other two seasons that Michael is referring to are 2010-11 and 2011-12.
To start, here’s how Ovechkin’s boxcar stats looked for the three seasons in question:
The only thing that jumps off the page here as significantly different is Ovechkin’s 53 assists in 2010-11. Ovechkin’s 30 5-on-5 assists during that campaign were the second highest total of his career, and the gains seems to be legitimate, not the cause of an inflated shooting percentage, as the team shot a reasonable 7.9 percent with Ovechkin on the ice that season.
So, from a raw total perspective, it’s fair to say 2010-11 was the best of the three seasons.
But, a lot was made this season about how Ovechkin’s minutes were cut this season. This could clearly be a big factor in his point total being down, so looking at Ovechkin’s rate stats would be helpful here
2011-12 appears to be Ovechkin’s weakest season here, but it shouldn’t be ignored that his goals/60 were at the highest during this season. There may not be a clear winner or loser here among the three seasons, but looking at Ovechkin’s production within the context of rate stats could provide some relief. His 2.17 points/60 were his highest rate since since 2012-13. Further, Ovechkin’s 2.17 points/60 in 2016-17 at 5-on-5 ranked 32nd among the 351 forwards who played 500-plus minutes last season. Any concerns about Ovechkin’s production should come with the caveat that his rate production was still top notch last season. But, the flip side of this coin is that Ovechkin’s 0.74 goals/60 at 5-on-5 was the lowest rate of his career.
One of the primary reasons Ovechkin is one of the best goal scorers to ever play the game is that he generates shot attempts at an elite rate. Here’s his shot attempt rate and where that ranked across the league for the respective season.
|Season||Shot attempts/60||NHL Rank|
The story here is that there is no story…yet. Ovechkin’s shot generation did slip, but he’s still ripping shots at an elite rate. This is something to keep an eye on moving forward, but nothing to be alarmed by at this point.
An examination of Ovechkin’s play wouldn’t be complete without looking at the power play. Here’s how Ovechkin produced both goals and shots at 5-on-4 in those seasons:
Of the three seasons, 2016-17 was certainly Ovechkin’s best when it came to 5-on-4 play, although it should be noted that Ovechkin’s production was not quite at the level it has been the last few seasons.
It’s hard to quantify how these three season stack up in totality relative to one another, but they are pretty clearly the three worst of Ovechkin’s career. A reasonable argument could certainly be made that this was Ovechkin’s best season of these three “down” seasons Michael asked about. But, there are other takeaways we can still make:
Headline photo: Patrick Smith
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