Posts tagged ovechkin

Fantasy Hockey: The Curious Case of Alex Ovechkin




It seems like for a few years now, people have been asking themselves “what’s wrong with Alex Ovechkin?”


This is a guy who scored 45+ goals for five straight seasons and 50+ goals in four of those five. He has now scored under 40 for two straight years and is goalless through the first three games of this season.


There have been numerous positions on this subject from everyone across the hockey spectrum. These posits range from teams have him “figured out” to the coaches aren’t “using him right” and so on and so on…


After looking into it a bit (this conversation came up on Twitter and curiosity finally got the best of me), there are two things I found can readily explain his “decline” over the last couple of years:

  1. He has to shoot the puck. He is not a passer, he was his most effective when he was scoring more goals than he was assisting on. I’ll demonstrate why this is the case
  2. His team has been drawing less penalties, taking him out of his bread-and-butter zone, the power-play.


I had long thought the relation between his shot and goal rates was fairly linear, and it is:






We see similar trends in many of the years, notably: 2005-2006, 2006-2007 and 2009-2010. The variance in the other years can be explained with his shooting percentage rates:


Shooting %
05/06 – 12.2
06/07 – 11.7
07/08 – 14.6
08/09 – 10.6
09/10 – 13.6
10/11 – 8.7
11/12 – 12.5


You see how a high shooting percentage like in ’07-’08 can greatly alter your final goal total (he had 65) and a low shooting percentage can decimate it; He had 33 less goals in ’10-’11 comapred to that ’07-’08 despite taking just 80 less shots.


So that is a nuts and bolts explanation of my first conclusion. When it comes down to it, Ovechkin just isn’t shooting enough. If Ovechkin were to shoot his career average (5.11 shots/game) and shoot at his career shooting percentage of 11.9%, he would score 29 goals this year or push for 50 goals in a normal season. That is the Ovechkin we have come to know. If he wants to mitigate at least some of the variance in his shooting percentage – and if he shot 5.11 shots/game last year he could have had 50 goals, instead of the 38 he ended up with – he needs to shoot a whole lot more than he is. As of right now, he’s averaging 3.67 shots/game in this shortened season, what would be a career-worst.


This brings me to conclusion number two: his team has not been drawing enough penalties.


Washington PP Opportunities League Average
2007-2008 346 351
2008-2009 337 341
2009-2010 313 304
2010-2011 263 291
2011-2012 245 271

Ovechkin’s power-play time has been consistently declining for 6 years now (I’ll concede it’s still too early to really reach any conclusion about this year). This is directly a result of his team not drawing as many penalties. The league average for power-play opportunities declined four straight years from 2007-2011, so that is a part of it.


However, in any season from 2007-2010, the Capitals never drew any less than 5 total penalties less than the league average. In 2010-2011? They drew 28 less penalties than the league average. For a player that has over 100 power-play goals since the 2004-2005 lockout, that was a death-knell. It shouldn’t be any surprise then that Ovechkin scored a career-worst seven PP goals in 2010-2011 after scoring no less than 13 in any season previous to that and getting over 20 PP goals twice. Also, it should be noted, Ovechkin had his worst power-play shooting percentage of the last three years that season as well.


How did they do last year? They were fourth-worst in drawing penalties. If Ovechkin hadn’t shot his 12.6% on power-plays like he did last year (and he shot more often), he likely wouldn’t have cracked the double-digit goal mark on the power-play.


Time On Ice/Game Power-Play Time On Ice/Game
2007-2008 23:06 5:20
2008-2009 23:00 5:06
2009-2010 21:48 4:45
2010-2011 21:22 4:08
2011-2012 19:48 3:30
2012-2013 23:20 3:29


Obviously, this is a bit more nuanced than straight-forward shooting and drawing penalties. The game has changed over the last six or seven years to a more East-West game (cross-crease passes and passes through lanes) and a premium has been placed on shot-blocking.


But, like I showed, he needs to shoot more and his team needs to draw more penalties. He has gone from averaging over 6.5 shots/game in 2008-2009 to less than 3.75 shots/game now. Also, his team can’t go from drawing 3% more penalties than the league average as they did 2009-2010, to drawing 10% less penalties than the league average last year. It will spell disaster for a player who was once the most electrifying hockey player on the planet.


*all numbers courtesy of and

2013 Fantasy Hockey Draft Guide

If you don't download our fantasy hockey draft guide, you're bound to be cursed by Jaromir Jagr's mullet

If you don’t download our fantasy hockey draft guide, you’re bound to be cursed by Jaromir Jagr’s mullet

After way too many months of hearing about Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr, I was starting to think we’d never see the end of the NHL lockout. But thankfully, the suits in New York were able to put their differences aside and came to an agreeement that has Zambonis around North America revving up their engines.


Thankfully, our Senior Hockey Writer (Michael Clifford aka SlimCliffy) had the foresight to know there would be an end to the madness and has been working diligently on our 2013 Fantasy Hockey Draft Guide. In between hockey practice up in New Brunswick (yup, Mike is also our Head Canadian at FantasyTrade411), Mike has compiled 39 pages of unadulterated hockey excellence to help you all prepare for your upcoming fantasy hockey drafts, and I’m absolutely psyched to be able to share it with you all. We’ve published the entire guide into one handy pdf file that we’re going to send via email, but if you’re curious what’s in it, here’s a quick look at the table of contents, eh?:


  • Welcome to the Guide and Explanation of Fantasy Hockey
  • Layout of My Rankings
  • What to Expect in This Fantasy Guide
  • Draft Day Tips and Strategies
  • My 10 Commandments of the 2013 NHL Fantasy Season
  • Players That Should Improve on Last Year
  • Players Who Should Regress from Last Year
  • A List of Rookies to Watch For
  • A List of Sophomores to Watch for
  • Players You Will Find on a Lot of My Teams
  • Players You Will Not Find on Most of My Teams
  • Shallow-League Sleepers and Busts
  • Deep-League Sleepers and Busts
  • My Rankings: Preface
  • Rankings: Forwards
  • Forward Primer
  • Rankings: Defence
  • Defence Primer
  • Rankings: Goalies
  • Goalie Primer


As a thank you for  your continued readership to FantasyTrade411, we’re going to be providing this season’s Fantasy Hockey Draft Guide free of charge. That said, I can personally attest to the fact that Mike and his Sports Counseling co-host Tony M have put a TON of work into this draft guide, so I’m going to provide a donation button below if you feel like sending Mike a small token of your appreciation. If you want to send a few bucks to Mike for his work, we’d greatly appreciate it. If you want the guide for free, that’s cool too…it’s all yours.


So now, all you need to do is email me ( or Cliffy ( and let us know you want a copy of the draft guide and we’ll be happy to send it your way.


Thank you all again for being such a great audience and good luck in your Fantasy Hockey drafts this week!