Alex Ovechkin’s Heroics May Be Overstated

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.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to share your thoughts on this year’s Hart Trophy race in the comments section below!

Follow All Panther Parkway writers on Twitter: Me @JamesonCoop, Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, Josh Luecht @eyesonsunrise, Scott Mullin @GreatScottsman, Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Gabby Kiger @gabbykiger, Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530 and David Lasseter @davidlasseter. Visit our Facebook fan page here and give us a like and share anything you wish with us.

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Comments

  1. the truth says:

    wow a journalist than can’t stand critisism and different opinions, keep it up kid you’ll go far with that attitude. I thought also that this was PANTHERS blog .Oh and btw all year? lol news flash we had a lock out and we were left with almost less than half a season so dont say ALL YEAR

    • Jameson Cooper says:

      Journalism is all about weighing different opinions especially about topics like this where both sides have a fairly good argument. I have relished having this discussion with people over the past few weeks and have had some great conversations because of it. And while yes this is primarily a Panthers blog, we do take time to occasionally look into other topics around the NHL. And when I refer to “all year” I mean this whole season which although shortened has still been 40+ games thus far. I appreciate your thoughts and comments.

  2. It’s a Panthers site that also covers other NHL news. Thanks for reading

  3. Doctor Jack says:

    The Most Valuable Player is by definition an annual award given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team. Its not the best player award, nor the best 2 way player award, nor the most consistent awards etc. Clearly by scoring 1/3 of the Caps total goals over these last 15 or 20 games, Ovi has carried the team on his back from oblivion to playoffs. You subtract Crosby, for example, and it almost plays no effect on Pittsburgh (in fact some stats show their record BETTER w/o him over the yrs.). Dont even see Crosby in equation for Hart. Kane Tavares and Ovi are the players who if you remove from their respective teams the results are altered dramatically. 10 more games to go so fascinating how this will play out.

    As you said the resurgent Ovi is great for the NHL. His physicality gives fans a different type superstar than Crosby to root for so its great for the game.

    May the MOST VALUABLE player win!

  4. the truth says:

    comparing ovie to crosby is getting pretty damn old, if you are a journalist 2 things step it up and be more original this is not 2008 ….boring

    • Jameson Cooper says:

      Did you read past the first paragraph? Crosby’s name was mentioned once and in a group context. This was hardly a Crosby vs. Ovechkin piece at all, but rather a closer look at Ovechkin’s stats and why he may not be worthy of being a Hart Trophy finalist this year just yet. Crosby’s name was only mentioned because he has been the Hart Trophy favorite this season prior to his injury.

      • Jameson Cooper says:

        At this point in their careers you can’t even compare Crosby and Ovechkin, they play completely different games. This piece was meant to point out that simply players like Kane/Toews/Tavares/Kadri etc. have done more in a complete season and against stiffer competition. Also, the Atlantic Division goaltending isn’t that bad, Lundqvist is elite, Nabakov has had a fantastic season and Brodeur was great b4 his injury. Like I say in the piece, Ovechkin has done great things over his past 13 games, I give him fair praise, I am just saying that 13 great games shouldn’t put him in the same conversation as skaters who have been doing it all year and against better competition. I don’t hate Ovie at all, and even say the NHL is better when he’s great, but being a ghost for the first half of the season and then suddenly re-discovering your talent and carrying your team to the top of a bad division shouldn’t garner you any hardware, just a pat on the back.

  5. Hey Coop, Nicklas Backstrom just picked up 2 more points tonight. That’s 42. Why isn’t he being considered? Majority of his assists are to Ovechkin. #JustSaying ;)

  6. Jameson Cooper says:

    This article wasn’t slurping, but rather questioning the legitimacy of his Hart consideration. We are primarily a Panthers blog, but it’s fun to post other NHL articles from time to time.

  7. That Guy says:

    I thought this was a Panthers blog? Let the national guys slurp Ovi please.

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