Although Pittsburgh Penguins’ forward Sidney Crosby has had a firm grasp on the Hart Trophy for the majority of the 2012-2013 season, his recent injury has opened up the door for several other skaters around the league to potentially take home this year’s MVP award. The most surprising name now beginning to be muttered around NHL circles as a potential Hart candidate has to be the once dormant Washington Capitals’ forward, Alex Ovechkin. In his last 12 games, Ovechkin has led the Capitals to the top of the Southeast Division by scoring an astounding 21 total points in that time. While these exploits may sound heroic and worthy of Hart Trophy consideration, a closer look at Ovechkin’s statistics this season show that his success this year may not be as impressive as some people initially thought.
Note: Statistics are accurate as of the morning of April 9th, 2013.
A Closer Look At Alex Ovechkin’s Statistics
- Of Ovechkin’s 25 goals this season, 15 have been scored against goaltenders who started the 2013 season in the AHL or as a backup – Bishop, Markstrom, Clemmensen, Ellis, Peters, Montoya, Enroth, Hedberg.
- Of Ovechkin’s 25 goals, 14 have been scored against the Jets, Panthers, Hurricanes, and Lightning – all four of which are in the bottom 8 of goals allowed per game in the entire NHL.
- Ovechkin has 89 more shots than the next highest player on the Capitals’ roster. This is the largest player shot disparity in the NHL – the 2nd largest is Evander Kane with 50 more shots than the next highest player on the Winnipeg Jets.
Ovechkin’s Most Frequent Victims
- Florida Panthers: 6 Goals Scored – Team GAA: 3.36 – 29th in the NHL
- Carolina Hurricanes: 3 Goals Scored – Team GAA: 3.16 – 28th in the NHL
- Winnipeg Jets: 3 Goals Scored – Team GAA: 2.95 – 23rd in the NHL
- Buffalo Sabres: 3 Goals Scored – Team GAA: 2.92 – 22nd in the NHL
What Does It All Mean?
Upon closer review of Ovechkin’s impressive goal total this season it seems as if I have found a common trend. While there is no doubt that scoring 25 goals in just 39 games is very impressive regardless of the circumstances, the fact that Ovechkin has seen the majority of his success against inferior opponents should factor into his Hart Trophy consideration.
With almost half of his offensive damage being done against the Southeast Division or backup goaltenders, voters should take into account the frailty of Ovechkin’s divisional surroundings. While Ovechkin has led his team to the top of the Southeast Division, it is important to note that the Southeast has been easily the most hapless division in the entire NHL this season. With just 42 points, the Capitals are more than 13 points behind fellow Eastern Conference division leaders, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens. The Capitals may be the best team in the Southeast this year, but like the Florida Panthers last season, their success may prove to be fool’s gold.
Also lost in the recent Ovechkin frenzy has been the consistent play of both Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Ribiero who kept the Capitals afloat prior to Ovechkin’s late-season surge. While other Hart contenders like Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, and John Tavares have carried their teams throughout the majority of the season, Ovechkin has only recently started to show signs of life. In fact, Ovechkin was only able to compile a grand total of 11 points through the team’s first 16 games this season.
While I don’t mean to demean Alex Ovechkin as a player, these statistical findings have shown me that while he may be having a resurgent season, he is hardly worthy of Hart Trophy consideration. Considering he was once a top-tier player in the world, fans around the NHL will be quick to label Ovechkin’s recent exploits as his return to form – however I do not think that an impressive stretch of games is enough to garner neither hardware or faith that this success can be sustained. One thing is for sure though, the NHL is better served when players like Alex Ovechkin are playing at the top of their game – I for one am just not ready to proclaim his revival just yet.
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