Saturday, April 05, 2008

Ovechkin joins the all-time greats

Without question, the post I get asked the most about is one I put together in early February on Alex Ovechkin chasing the top goal-scoring seasons of all time.

Everyone wants an update.

For that, I talked with Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau, HNIC analyst Kelly Hrudey and a few others for a piece in Saturday's paper: Ovechkin's campaign for the ages.

And here's an updated look at the adjusted goals table and where Ovechkin's 65 (and counting) fits in. It hasn't changed all that much, although goal scoring has decreased a little from where it was two months ago, Ovechkin's pace has slowed a bit and I've adjusted things based on how many games were played in the seasons these marks were hit:

Players Season Goals GPG AdjG
1 Phil Esposito 1970-71 76 6.24 69.8
2 Brett Hull 1990-91 86 6.91 69.5
3 Alex Ovechkin 2007-08 65 5.45 65.8
4 Wayne Gretzky 1981-82 92 8.03 64.0
5 Mario Lemieux 1988-89 85 7.48 63.5
6 Phil Esposito 1971-72 66 6.13 61.7
7 Wayne Gretzky 1983-84 87 7.89 61.6
8 Phil Esposito 1973-74 68 6.39 61.0
9 Mario Lemieux 1995-96 69 6.29 59.8
10 Pavel Bure 2000-01 59 5.51 58.4

Boudreau was a real joy to talk to, the kind of honest, quotable guy reporters love to chat with:
"Sometimes when you're right on top of the situation, you don't realize how many goals Alex really has," Boudreau said. "You know what I mean? You see it every day so it's not a big surprise. But when you sit back and think, in today's era, where every game he plays, every shift he takes, the other team's top defensive pairing and top defensive line is against him, and in every game, the other teams are talking about focusing on checking Alex Ovechkin. And then he'll go out and look what he's done — quite amazing."
It really is.

I'll try and get a transcript of the Boudreau interview up on Globe on Hockey here shortly.

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At 2:53 p.m., April 05, 2008, Anonymous Gustafsson said...

There's a reason Bruce's nickname is "Gabby".

At 3:07 p.m., April 05, 2008, Blogger usually frustrated caps fan said...

LETS GO CAPS!!!! Today is the day they can show the world they are a team of destiny. This line from "Any Given Sunday" may say it best: Coach Tony D'Amato (Al Pacino): "I'll tell you this, in any fight it's the guy whose willing to die whose gonna win that inch. And I know, if I'm gonna have any life any more it's because I'm still willing to fight and die for that inch, because that's what living is, the six inches in front of your face. Now I can't make you do it. You've got to look at the guy next to you, look into his eyes. Now I think ya going to see a guy who will go that inch with you. Your gonna see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this team, because he knows when it comes down to it your gonna do the same for him. That's a team gentlemen, and either, we heal as a team, or we will die as individuals. That's football guys, that's all it is. Now what are you gonna do?" LETS GO CAPS!!!!

At 5:28 p.m., April 05, 2008, Blogger andy grabia said...

Great G&M article, James.

At 6:25 p.m., April 05, 2008, Blogger rickibear said...

Did you adjust for the fact how soft the eastern confrence is at yealding goals. Look at Jerome Iginla's numbers versus the Eastern cconfrence. His numbers projected over the year playing in the southeast division would have him score 94 goals.

At 6:40 p.m., April 05, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I'd like to see an analysis factoring in relative ease of scoring vs. opponents.

The logical extension of this would be to just count each team's GF & GA as the avg goals scored per game (vs. the league wide avg). That wouldn't be right either.

[There is no way that Iginla's small sample size (playing the SE a few games) would actually lead him to score 94 goals.]

At 8:10 a.m., April 06, 2008, Blogger The Juice said...

One thing the goal adjusting doesn't account for is how much better goalies are today compared to previous decades. If you take that into consideration, Ovechkin's 65 goal season today may be even more impressive than Esposito's 76 goal season in 1970-71.

At 9:48 p.m., April 06, 2008, Blogger breed16 said...

Ovechkin scored 8 goals in 10 games versus the Western Conference. He doesn't discriminate when he dominates. That's right on with his 65 goal pace.

You guys are nit-picking. Ovechkin owns Iginla and Kovalchuk, the only other "threats" for the Richard this year.

At 12:03 p.m., April 07, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As for goalies supposedly being so much better now than in years back... if they are "better" at stopping the puck now, how much is due to the HUGE padding they wear now? Take a look at a youtube clip of goalies approx. pre-1995; especially of the 80's & earlier. I'm surprised they could stop even 85% of shots.

Why would goalies be so much better now? If they are training more, & in better shape, wouldn't the same go for the other players (the skaters)? It's all relative. Take Esposito of the early 70's & time-travel him to today, & he wouldn't have to have a summer job & could workout instead (especially if his salary ballooned 50x to today's level). With today's huge salaries, & new knowledge of fitness & diet etc., players are in better condition. But that doesn't mean the older-era players wouldn't be in the same kind of shape today.

Otherwise, adjusting for average goals scored/allowed per game is a decent way to compare eras.

At 12:51 a.m., May 02, 2008, Blogger Jimmy Jazz said...

It's not just pad size: Goalie technique has become almost a science.
Can you honestly tell me that the average goalie doesn't have better angling and movement than goalies in the seventies and eighties?
As I said, it's more scientific than athletic.

At 11:34 a.m., June 28, 2008, Blogger Leu' said...

Here is what I just did. The total goals per game in a season divided by the average of goals per game scored by the best players. For example, Brett Hull in 90-01 season had a 1,1 GPG in a season with an average of 6.91 GPG. Ovechkin sits on the 10th place which is very impressive, considering the quality of his team.

Brett Hull 1.100 1990-91, 6.91 = 6.28
Mario Lemieux 1.150 1992-93, 7.25 = 6.30
Cam Neely 1.020 1993-94, 6.48 = 6.35
Mario Lemieux 0.986 1995-96, 6.29 = 6.38
Phil Esposito 0.974 1970-71, 6.24 = 6.41
Mario Lemieux 0.814 2000-01, 5.51 = 6.77
Mario Lemieux 1.118 1988-89, 7.48 = 6.69
Wayne Gretzky 1.176 1983-84, 7.89 = 6.71
Wayne Gretzky 1.150 1981-82, 8.03 = 6.98
Pavel Bure 0.784 1999-00, 5.49 = 7.00
ALEX OVECHKIN 0.793 2007-08, 5.57 = 7.02
Phil Esposito 0.872 1973-74, 6.13 = 7.03


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