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Statistical analysis: Is Alex Ovechkin giving luck a chance?

Statistical analysis

Goal scoring is a function of opportunity, skill and luck. There is no denying that playing on the top line with Mike Knuble, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom affords Alex Ovechkin every opportunity to score goals, while his mantle full of individual NHL awards and a 52-goal pace this year attest to his high level of skill. So why does it look like Ovechkin is struggling for goals?

I say it is luck, but not "luck" in the true sense of the word.

There is a lot of work being done in the area of shot quality which makes it easy to assign probability rates to a shot becoming a goal depending on the shooter's location on the ice, the type of shot taken and the strength of play. For instance, a wristshot in the crease at even strength scores about 16 percent of the time, while a slapshot from the blueline has about a 2 percent chance of lighting the lamp. The higher a shot's probability, the more room luck has to work its fickle magic.

The shots Ovechkin has taken during 5-on-5 in the first 11 games are mostly low quality, having an average 6.7 percent chance of becoming a goal scored -- enough for dead last among Washington forwards. His five even-strength goals so far have either been really lucky, or his skill as a shooter is so high it is enough to compensate over a small sample size.

Despite Ovi's two power-play goals 13 seconds apart against Calgary, his shot selection on the man advantage has him again dead last among forwards in shot quality (7.5 percent) and only ahead of blueliners Tom Poti and Jeff Schultz overall. Equally troubling is how far away Ovechkin is shooting the puck with the power play -- an average distance of 50 feet. Compare that with the other skaters who have power-play goals -- Eric Fehr (average 20 feet), Brooks Laich (22 feet), Backstrom (22 feet) and Semin (38 feet) -- and it's easy to see why we had to wait 11 games for the Great 8's first two of the year.

Having Mike Green back to quarterbacking the power play will help, but even when Green is healthy, the shots Ovechkin has been taking during the man advantage have been of average quality.

Whichever side of the fence you fall on, we should agree that the law of averages will eventually win out, making higher-quality shots a priority if Ovechkin wants to continue a 50-goal pace. The good news is that we've seen him overcome slower starts: Ovechkin had only two goals in the first 11 games during the 2008-09 season and ended up winning the Maurice Richard Trophy with 56. The bad news is that he needed to take the second-most shots the NHL has ever seen (528) to do it.

Neil Greenberg also writes for Russian Machine Never Breaks. You can follow him on Twitter here.

By Neil Greenberg  | October 31, 2010; 4:38 PM ET
Categories:  Alex Ovechkin, Statistical analysis  
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Next: After mixed-bag road trip, Caps looking for balance


Are people this hard on Crosby? Doesn't matter what the guy does, it is never good enough.

Posted by: capscoach | October 31, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Last night, Hendricks and Neuvirth provided the spark, OV, Backs, Semin, and Green brought the gasoline and marshmellows. They need to keep that line together, it may not be stoppable.

Posted by: underpants2 | October 31, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

This article is garbage. Please stop.

Posted by: JDP_ | October 31, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

This article is great. Please keep it up.

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | October 31, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Yeah the stats insider2 are pretty blah

Happy to see Fahey back down (bummer for Matty P)

Laich and Majo as the 2nd and 3rd centers is a much better option than Flash as a center, at all

Happy to see the Caps take advantage of the Flames trying to keep up offensively with the Caps

Happy to see better defense and pk (so far)

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | October 31, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

And as an asside, I am so very happy that I am a big Caps fan and have given up on the SynderSkins. The former is aiming for excellence and doing well in the playoffs, whereas the latter is happy if they get over .500 and win on luck.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | October 31, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Jeesupeets, capscoach, just how many gallons of Kool Aid did you drink?

Neil, thanks, excellent, non-biased article there. So Ovi's shots are "low percentage." Is that a slam on Ovi? No. What it means is the coach and the team have to do more to get Ovi in better position to score.

Let me ask those of you who follow basketball - what's easier to make, a lay-up or a 20-foot fadeaway, spinarama jumper? So what's the secret? You design plays to get the scorer in "scoring position."

So, what the article suggests is that, as part of the Caps funk this year on offense, Ovi is getting a high majority of his shots from extended range. And he's not scoring like in the past as a result. What's wrong with that analysis? The same analysis would let you know that Knuble last year I believe was #2 in the NHL in scoring percentage. And that was because he was great at the garbage goals. He was brought on board for that, and he did it very well. This year, not so well.

I'm not knocking last night's win, not at all, but just as Minny and Boston played really tight D to take away "our game," Calgary and the Canes did not not (and it didn't help Caps played the Wild while under anesthesia). And, capscoach, when we (and the guys at THN in their article) talk about BB "adapting," it isn't about switching the lines, it's about switching styles. Last night was firewagon hockey. When the other team plays that way, or tries, Caps win 9 times out of 10 (maybe better). When the other team though clogs the slot, forcing those low-percentage shots Neil was alluding to, what happens? It's either 1 of 2 things: a) BB tells em to play ugly hockey and they ignore him or b) BB just doesn't tell them to play ugly hockey.

I think it's "A" and BB tells em but they don't or can't listen. Some of the Caps players (Ovi, Semin, Flash) have never had to play that style of game. It's just like a young guy with tremendous batting skills in high school but then fails at pros because he can't hit a curve ball when, in fact, all through high school, maybe he never faced a pitcher who could throw one.

Again, not to take away from last night, but we know the Caps can win firewagon hockey. What we've said here, and you might disagree, is until they can succeed at ugly hockey, their chances of Cup hoisting, like Ovechkin's shot percentage this year, will be lower rather than higher.

That's my opinion, yours may be different, but that's why we're all here.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | October 31, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Compare where Stamkos gets most of his chances on their PP and where Ovi gets his...

Ovi should always be where he got his goals on the PP last night, NOT at the point.

How many times did we see great snipers such as Lemiuex and Bossy do the same thing and kill the Caps during their careers? Did they play the point on their PP???

NO because Al Arbour, Bob Johnson and Scotty Bowman are NOT that stupid.

Posted by: joek443 | October 31, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

The super elites create their own luck. OV relies solely on skill and repetition, eventually breaking through when the opposition stumbles. He doesn't think the game like a true super elite and that's why he can be shut down the easiest out of all the top forwards in the NHL whenever teams start tightening up their defense.

Posted by: BigGameSid | October 31, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

I completely agree joek443 that Ovi should NOT be on the point during the PP. He should be up front, creating havoc in front of the goalie and in position for unblocked shots as well as rebounds. He should not be shooting from 50 feet away allowing for many of his shots to be blocked.

Posted by: MReilly9 | October 31, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

The article has its merit, but it would have been nice to have some reference to the fact that OV does play significantly further from the net than any of the other players compared to.

But I agree, he should play closer to the net on the PP, or at least they should try to get more rotation so he can drop down a bit and play off the boards.

Posted by: c_majors | October 31, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

It seems like when Ovi really dos well on the PP he has cycled down from the point and is near the face-off dot to the goalie's right..

You'll notice Caps have three forwards, Ovi and Green on PP. Sometimes the whole circle moves around one spot with Ovi then in above position. Someone fires him a pass and he one-times it before the goalie can slide across the crease. The other play that works is where he skates along the boards and cuts straight across the ice and unleashes from the slot. That one is a very high percentage play.

Slapshots from the point? No. And I'll bet Lemieux had maybe one or less slapshot from the point for a goal out of his 600+. It wasn't even until mid-90s that teams used forwards on point (Juneau was one of first, and I remember getting abused by Jagr for shorties).

Bottom line, as this article points out, if Ovi can get within 20 feet, he's deadly.

Oh, and now for a public service announcement:

Tuesday is Election Day. Let's all remember to cast our ballot, for Kool-Aid drinker, middle-of-the-roader or Dark Sider. And I do realize some of you will be working the polls, capscoach pouring the Kool-Aid and joek443 with goblets of goat's blood. Let's give it up for the volunteers!

(BTW, they are having a similar poll in Chicago, but everyone votes six times.)

Posted by: tominsocal1 | October 31, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

I think the Caps must have taken the "Restore the Sanity" rally to heart and that's why they won last night. Since I also think they like to "Keep Fear Alive" (by not playing their best all the time), they probably like Colbert too.

I'm voting early to be a middle-of-the-roader leaning toward the Kool-Aid side. I'm allergic to goat's blood.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | October 31, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

you know what...koolaid tastes good!

Ovie has been voted best player by his peers 3yrs in a row (above sid...big game!) yet we still nit pick him and delude ourselves into thinking he is not playing well...He is playing fine. He had a slump and he will probaly have one or two more this season just like Crosby and all the other greats do! I have heard all the arguments and what it comes down to is I just don't buy it anymore. Sure he could always improve but to say he is playin wrong is ludicrous...he is the best player in the world. He takes to the ice and 2-3 players surround other player gets treatment like that, not even Crosby. I watch Stamkos, Crosby, Malkin and all the other offensive powerhouses play and NONE are covered like Ovechkin! We don't have to flip out and dissect the guy every time he goes 4-5 games without a goal. The Ovie not on point thing has legitimacy but that is up to BB not #8. And I really don't mean this in a rude way, but we can all discuss our opinions, but to pretend like we know more that the Caps organization is so egotisitcal, ridiculous...and male.

Ovie is who he is...sure I daydream that he is actually nice responsible young man I could marry and have some kids with, but he is a wild russian who hopefully won't kill himself in his sportscars or from some STD. He is also the best player in the league (sorry I listen to the players more than writers and WaPo bloggers)You will ALWAYS i repeat ALWAYS be able to find something to fix, but at some point you realize you will be happier to just sit back and watch the guy work his magic.

Posted by: capscoach | October 31, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

@mreilly, @tominsocal

but it seems having OV on the point allows him to quarterback the powerplay. OV is not a crease crashing type player - it's not his strength. The article is hilariously mistimed because last night's game was "exhibit A" for why Ovie should be on the point: he quarterbacks the powerplay from that position and he also keeps the puck alive on the point better than any other player we have. On the Caps first goal, Ovie did not get an assist but his first pass was, of course, crucial.

His two goals were relatively strong quality chances (Stamkos scores almost all his goals from where Ovie scored the first, and the second was between the circles and just about within them...

Posted by: RedLitYogi | October 31, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Some offsetting factors re the analysis -

1. Shots from the point are easier to get, so it is not appropriate to compare the effectiveness with close-in shots one-for-one. If Ovi waited for only higher percentage shots, he would take a lot fewer shots. It's not like basketball where a team is essentially assured a shot each time down the court. So there is a trade-off between number of shots and quality of shots.

2. The analysis fails to consider the rebound chances that shots from the point produce. Ovi's shot from the point may be counted as a "missed" shot but it could produce a rebound goal for Knuble, for example.

Whatever Ovi is doing, it seems to have worked pretty well for him and the team.

Posted by: zmega | October 31, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Majic Johnson and Lebron James are probably the two most unique players that I've ever seen in all my years of watching sports... they both could literally play every position on the court.

Just becaue Ovi CAN play the point doesn't mean that's the best way to utilize his talent. yes he can play the role of a playmaker/QB on the PP but what he does best is SCORE goals.

Again did you ever see Lemieux or Bossy play the point on the PP???

Posted by: joek443 | October 31, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Yogi: Absolutely no disagreement on any thing you said.

capscoach: You are a very worthy fan.

Yogi (again): What Ovi did the other night and what he had done over the past few games prior (and during Habs series) were two different things. I don't have stats from all his shots from Playoffs, last year, but he does not score (see Greenberg stats) and these long range shots from the point.

Actually, no one does! I'm not going to nit-pick on some of the young fans here, but Mr. Green berg also in his previous post noted how shots from the point had like 2-3% chance and, in fact, their only value was to create delections and rebounds that are like 25-33% shots.

Ovi was shooting point very much before last night (again, don't believe me, read above article). This is NOT A SLIGHT ON OVI! Simply, it's a fact, a very good fact, because, if you allow yourself (not you, others) to think about that, you'll understand that Mr. Greenberg's underlying poiunt is that perhaps a slump isn't caused just by bad luck but by poor shot selection.

I have seen, almost all on TV, being a far-away Caps fan, almost every goal Ovi has scored. His first year he had a bunch of breakaways. Teams caught on to that. Most of his goals since then have been faceoff-dot distance from either the slot to the right (of goalie) slot. Again, not to belabor, but since this is where he scores from, and these are high percentage shots, for God's sake get him into those spots and get him the puck!

It's a team game. Players aren't suppose to carry the mail one end to the other, split the D and score. D is supposed to stop that. Coaches can and do design plays. As others have pointed out, Ovi's most goals on PP are when the team rotates and cycles. OK, fine, put him on the point, positionally, to start the PP, but have them rotate so that he gets into prime shooting space. Caps did not do that vs Habs. Only Semin and Flash had the really good shots and they missed! Semin had a large number of outside SOG but every decent chance he had it seems over the crossbar.

OK, I've gone off-topic. I'm trying to defend the writer here who is making very valid points. They tell all of us at work we must be able to accept constructive critcism. That includes doctors, lawyers, garbage men (sorry for PNC) and elite athletes. Forget OVI for a minute, last night was the best game this year where the Caps had lots of shots from high-% zones. And, for the most part, they weren't pretty plays, but hockey plays.

I'm still worried about the lack of production from in close. Teams will learn from Calgary and work to shut down that creativity (clog the slot!). Then you have to do, just like in basketball, where you have to go inside to go outside. Or, in football, you have to run to set up the pass. In hockey - work the crease to open up mid-range shots!

I hereby give myself the Mister Ed Award for having beaten this "Play Ugly" horse into the ground. Sorry.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | October 31, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse

zmega: Actually, the analysis Mr. Greenberg did last week talked about deflections and rebounds and how they were 25-33% for goals and we all know, having grown up watching guys like Calle Jo and Bourque shoot on purpose to create that, that your shots from the point aren't an end to themselves.

That said, without a strong crease presence, a shot from the point is nothing but a shot from the point.

So, in conclusion, drawing from all facts, Ovechkin has been taking weak percentage shots, rather than good, and there's been nobody there to deflect or gather rebounds.

The Caps really have only two guys who do this - Laich and Knuble. Both have been slumping. So we have our superstar sniper taking weak % shots and our grinders not there to cash in.

I call that a recipe for failure.

I hope people don't think I'm negative to point that out because it's the logical conclusion I think from the data.

OK, so here's the deal: If someone plays effectively in front of the net, teams must drop down and guard against that, which opens up the mid-range shooting territory, and means you don't have to shoot so much from the point. That is just like in BB you pass inside to the center and defense collapses and center passes back out to guard for 18-footer. No?

Posted by: tominsocal1 | October 31, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

and why does it always seem like the Steelers play with 15 guys on D??

Posted by: joek443 | October 31, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

I have a hard time figuring out who has a more annoying picture

Posted by: philarmy | October 31, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Unrerlated subjects:

There should be a law limiting the size of trick-or-treaters. Just got a full-sized Tony the Tiger costume and full-sized Winnie the Poo. I watched and, as they left, "Winnie" took off the top of the costume and this dude could be a linebacker for the Chargers. Dude - let the kids do it.

On another subject, how do you all deal with your socks? Having a wife and three daughters, for years one sock from each pair would disappear into the Bermuda Triangle ("Omigod, is that like one of my dad's socks in my underwear? That's, like, so gross! I'll just stuff it somewhere!"). So now I have about 80 pairs and I save em in one laundry basket and then every four months do a quick wash, dry, match operation. Did that today and since I started that about ten years ago, the number of unmatched socks has dwindled to nearly zero.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | October 31, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Sorry guys, but I have a number of problems with the analysis above. And it has nothing to do with either koolaid or goat's blood and a full-moon.

First, most logically since Ovi had been in a non-scoring slump, wouldn’t that suggest that his recent shot selection or even his ability to find the time and space to get a shot off has not been good. So when the author uses the small data sample from a slump period to make larger points about Ovi’s abilities to score over the past five season, I get suspicious. Too much data is being left out. And too many assumptions are based upon a small and bad sample.

For example, the author wants to make the larger point that Ovi relies too much on volume rather than quality of SOGs. Yet he uses the 2008-09 season high 528 SOGs as comparison for greater impact in his argument but he conveniently ignores Ovi’s much lower 368 SOGs last season, because it didn’t fit his thesis as well. Crosby had 298 SOGs, a record high for him and good for 5th place, and Stamkos 297 SOGs. I think taking a higher number of SOGs certainly helped both of them get their 51 goals and Richard trophy. I don’t like it when people leave out data because it doesn’t fit their thesis.

Second, he compares the success percentage of a wrister in the crease to a slapshot from the blueline. Well, first off a wrister is a far more accurate shot than a slapshot--period. So I think it’s a false comparison. What I would ask is: “what is the success percentage of a wrister from the crease versus a wrister from the blueline? Is that percentage difference great enough to sustain his argument that Ovi needs to be in the crease more in order to be more successful with his goal scoring?

Moreover, he really doesn’t address the issue of context with Ovi’s shots and goals. He just averages out the shot distance within the small sample of an admittedly bad eleven-game-span. I don’t think averages in a small data sample tells us that much. And relying only on averages leaves out context and therefore makes me dubious of his conclusions.

Part of what makes Ovi’s shots lethal is how creative he can be with the situation. A wrister from higher in the slot in which he uses an opposing player as a screen will have a higher success rate than one without. That’s logical. And Ovi loves to use defenders as screens. When he's on his game.

To use an example from this 11-game data set, let’s look at Ovi’s OT goal against Ottawa. He was between the crease and the blueline closing in on the goalie. But he chose to take his shot when he did because he had the defender in front of him. He chose to fake out both the goalie and the defender by shifting his body and the puck and then as they reacted to his movements, he used the defender as a screen and shot the puck between the defender’s legs. The context matters with this goal. Yet the author simply averaged out the distance to make his point. And no Ovi wasn't in the crease for that goal. But he didn't need to be.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | October 31, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Finally, one more thing, to capscoach, I by no means hold it against you that you harbor the idea that Ovechkin could possibly father your children. Honestly, not a bad choice, were that to come about, you'd have athletes for kids and that would make for a nice lifestyle for you in your declining years. Plus you'd get the best seats to Caps games. I always tell my two unmarried daughters could they please find an NHL player.

I myself can admit, since we are posting this sort of thing, that for some years I yearned for Raquel Welch to have my babies. Well, maybe it wasn't a "have my babies" thing, I wasn't thinking that part of it, but I believe you understand what I mean.

It wouldn't have made sense anyway since she's about ten-fifteen years older than I am, but even at her advanced age she and Linda Carter (I had hoped for her too) have held up extremely well. Ovechkin can only pray to look so good as he approaches 70.

Raquel, if you or Linda (or both!!!) are reading, please contact me at tomissigned

Posted by: tominsocal1 | October 31, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Last night's PPs were mostly really well executed by the Caps (not the first one though).

But what I liked about the PP in which Ovi scored his two was how they were in constant rotation with good passing of the puck and they got shots off and would close in to pick off the rebounds and maintain control of the puck. It's the way the PP should be executed, and in marked contrast to their earlier PPs during these past eleven games.

I absolutely agree that the PP needs at least one guy irritating the c$%p out of the goalie. Someone absolutely needs to be near the crease. To pick off rebounds from one of Ovi's shots--a la Knuble--if nothing else.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | October 31, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Capsyoungguns: I think, maybe, you aren't letting the data speak for itself.

There's no denying Ovi shot percentage is down end of last year, playoffs and early this year. It's a fact. Now, the author has pointed out that Ovi shots this year, a small sample to be sure, but the shots this year are further out and on an angle. They are, in his vernacular, "low percentage shots." And, from what I recall, last year Playoffs, it was the same thing.

What I conclude, I think, is that slump can be physical, mental or combination. Baseball players go in slump and often due to swinging at bad pitches. Hockey maybe it's forgetting what has worked and trying shots that don't.

I myself agree with the analysis. The bottom line is the better percentage shots you take, the better chance to score. Mike Knuble last year percentage perfect example. Ovechkin has probably 2000 shots in his career and closing in on 300 goals. Maybe 13-15%. Very likely almost every goal he's had was a high percentage shot. Now he's taking more shots than have less chance. What is the reason? You decide. anyone can decide. Whatever. Author is just making the point that the shot selection supports a lower productivity. If he gets in closer, he will score more, it's that simple.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | October 31, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

I don't have a problem with the idea that Ovi should be going more to the crease. Sometimes he does take shots from close in. Given how good he is I bet Ovi could be just as "dangerous" in the crease. And considering how thoroughly he is defended, he just can't be the shark in the weeds with his hard shot from the outside surprising everyone the way he use to do it.

I had a problem with how the author constructed his argument, and he wasn't talking about Ovi from the playoffs to today as you were. He was making a conclusion about Ovi's past five seasons, but using recent data to make broader conclusions.

I believe that over the past five seasons there has been changes to how, when, and where Ovi takes his shots. It's hard to let go of what worked for so long and adjust his shot-taking style.

Truth is Ovi doesn't take nearly as many slapshots as he used to. And we may well see him more around the net, although how Ovi is played on the PP is how BB sets it up.

Stamkos at the moment reminds me a bit of Ovi a few years ago. He takes a lot of slapshots from the outside. Give opponents time and they will figure out how to better contain him, just as they have with Ovi. And he'll adapt as I think Ovi is currently adapting.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | October 31, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Oh I meant to be responding to you tominsocal. Sorry. You are in rare form--koolaid, blood, and socks 'n all--got a laugh out of me.

I meant to say in my last post that it's logical that closer in one is to the crease the better the chance a shot goes in. So it's logical that Ovi should be nosing the net more with his shots. I don't have a problem with that conclusion at all. But I still take issue with how the author constructed his argument and used his data.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | October 31, 2010 11:30 PM | Report abuse

As a part time goalie I actually find the shots from further out harder many times. Especially if there is any traffic between me and the shot. When a guy gets in close they have less to shoot at since they are so close and it is hard to get around my body into the open parts of the net. Now I don't play with anyone who is even close to NHL talent level but the shots from out far there is more ability to shoot in any direction then in close where you are forced to shot a certain direction because you can't shoot far side as easy since you have to get around the body. I would like Ovechkin to shoot from better areas but if we get guys getting screen and going for rebounds the shots from the outside can actually be better.

Posted by: icehammer97 | October 31, 2010 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Rare form!? Capsyoungguns you know me well enough to know that just as "normal" for Ovi is bouncing off the glass after a goal that normal for me is, well, God only knows.

I will add this - Ovi doesn't have to get to the crease to be effective. No, that's not his style. Draw a line from the faceoff dot to the slot and that is his sweet spot. Have then Backstrom feeding him the puck and Laich or Knuble ready to gobble up the rebound, seems the right formula.

"Especially if there is any traffic between me and the shot."

Posted by: icehammer97 | October 31, 2010 11:32 PM

icehammer: Is it possible since Caps haven't been creating the traffic that Ovi hasn't been able to move in closer? Doesn't net traffic force the D to retreat and circle the wagons around the net and doesn't that allow perimeter players to close in for a better shot?

Again the writer is telling us Ovi's shots are poor percentage and analysis leads us possibly to conclude that is a result of team not playing well and the grinders not willing to pay the price?

This is a very complicated thing but perhaps the more you look at it, the more you might conclude that a team-wide failure manifests itself with poor shot selection by your primary sniper.

This in fact in the army would be no different than the platoon doesn't penetrate th enemy position and therefore the sniper squad can't get off such good shots. I am going in a circle but getting back to the team isn't working hard enough and every single player looks worse as a consequence.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 1, 2010 12:00 AM | Report abuse

I have to agree with Capsyoungguns that the authoer failed to take into effect a lot of data when drawing his conclusion.

On its own the author makes a valid point that maybe Ovie is shooting too much from farther away. So I do tend to agree a little bit with his conclusion. But I think how he reached it was faulty.

Capsyoungguns mentioned many things, but in addition is that since Ovie plays the point of the PP, and is the shooter from the point on the PP(every PP has a main shooter from the point such as Gonchar). Because Ovie plays this role his shooting statistics will be tilted more towards having shots from further away because of his position. You must take that into effect.

Second, the author assumes that a player can just decide to take closer shots. It's not like Ovie will definitely take 400 shots this year and he can choose where he takes them. If a player will only be more selective with his shots he will take less shots which then changes the percentages.

There are many things that help determine where a player shoots from. I don't think many of those factors were considered by the author when he wrote this article. But I don't necessarily disagree with conclusion that Ovie should try to take some more shots from in closer.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 1, 2010 12:12 AM | Report abuse

So now I have about 80 pairs and I save em in one laundry basket and then every four months do a quick wash, dry, match operation. Did that today and since I started that about ten years ago, the number of unmatched socks has dwindled to nearly zero.

@tominsocal1--Great Minds do think alike! You and your family are welcome to join me and mine next time you are in DC metro; I promise excellent food, and (at the very least) decent drink.

Posted by: Rhino40 | November 1, 2010 1:06 AM | Report abuse

The real question is how does his shot quality this year compare with previous years.

Posted by: makplan20002 | November 1, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

yeah, it doesn't make sense to me why you would put your top goal scorer on the point. His top skill is at scoring the goals, not as much at setting them up.
Calgary's PK did a poor job on the second of the two goals because they let Ovie just move from down the ice and skate into a clear shot. That may be part of the luck he needed. But still, putting Ovie closer to the net on the PP will undoubtedly force multiple people to cover him and free up our other talented goal-scorers. d

Posted by: j762 | November 1, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

This Insider 2 is very stupid. Obviously this guy has never laced them up. He hides behind stats to try and jusitfy that he has nothing to talk about. Just stick with the facts and stop putting your opinion in there. I want to hear from Katie not you Neil. If you ever played a sport you know stats don't mean anything. The Caps were the best team on paper in the playoffs, and they were knocked out first round. So don't question Ovechkin's ability with your stupid stats. You have no right. Katie you are doing a great job. I don't know how you allow this stuff from Neil on your insider.

Posted by: Fury19 | November 1, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

This Insider 2 is very stupid. Obviously this guy has never laced them up. He hides behind stats to try and jusitfy that he has nothing to talk about. Just stick with the facts and stop putting your opinion in there. I want to hear from Katie not you Neil. If you ever played a sport you know stats don't mean anything. The Caps were the best team on paper in the playoffs, and they were knocked out first round. So don't question Ovechkin's ability with your stupid stats. You have no right. Katie you are doing a great job. I don't know how you allow this stuff from Neil on your insider.

Posted by: Fury19 | November 1, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse


Well maybe not rare form, because your criticisms are usually presented with a light, deft touch. Enjoyable to read from my perpesctive.

I usually stay out of statistical analysis because I'm just not good at it but I was pretty sugared up and bored while waiting for my son and his buddy to fall asleep. I should have realized it was going to take a long time with all that sugar in their system.

I still think the author left out too much data and I didn't like how he structured his argument, but then again probably a lot was left on the virtual cutting room floor after his editor was through with it.

Me I loved those two PP goals by Ovi and I'm relieved that the top players have got their timing back and PP success back--for the moment at least.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | November 1, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

@Icehammer 97:

As a full time goalie who is decent B league poor A league at best, I have to disagree on shots from the point. As a butterfly goalie with pretty quick reflexes for the level I play, I only allow shots from the point if there is traffic (ARE YOU READING THIS BOUDREAU WHEN THENPLAYOFFS START!!!) or I make a technical error like playing to deep in the net. My SV% is awful, so a pro is less likely to be as out of position with 90% plus stat. When I have had the (mis) fortune of playing with washed up ECHL guys and the like the release on their wrist and snap shots are much tougher to deal with. The shooter is not so sure where his slap shot is going and as the goalie you have time to figure it out. Plus you easily read the shooters eyes and see where he is puting it if there is no traffic. Close in a guy who can hit what he is aiming is far harder to read becuase the time is compressed and skilled guys have a silly release on wristers. If they can put one just over your glove side collar bone close in you can never stop that unless you guessed and started moving- in my experience. By the way, I think Brodeur is really good at reading eyes and that was why he complained about OVs visor his rookie year. I am no pro by any means, so please take this for what it is: a beer leaguer who pays attention to the guys that totally own me at pick up and A league games I sub for.

Posted by: brasidas422 | November 1, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Ovechkin has a relatively low shooting percentage over his career. Last year he had his career high for shooting percentage.

The danger is pulling stats without any context. If you went by shooting percentage alone last year, Lee Stempniak (27 goals) would rank above both Ovechkin and Crosby. Now go find a GM who would rank Stempniak above either player (specifically, one that is employed as a GM by an NHL club).

Posted by: jcurrin | November 1, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

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