Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images
With the Capitals at the Christmas break of the 2018-19 season, captain Alex Ovechkin has already scored 29 goals and added 14 assists for a total of 43 points in the 34 games the Caps have played so far. From a goal-scoring standpoint, this is the second-most goals he has scored before the Christmas break in his career, behind only his pace of the 2013-14 season, in which he scored 30 goals in 34 games prior to Christmas. The question on everyone’s mind is whether he can sustain this pace for the remainder of the year and reach a career-high in goals. His start to this season is nothing short of remarkable and in this piece, NoVa Caps takes a look at his start in contrast to others in his career.
In 2013-14, Ovechkin had the aforementioned 30 goals as of December 23. He finished the season with 51 goals and took home his third Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s Most Valuable Player. His best full season total in goals was 65, which came during the 2007-08 season (his third in the NHL). On December 23 of that season, he had 25 goals. In the other seasons in which he topped 50 goals (2005-06, 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2014-15) his goal totals as of December 23 were 19, 20, 23, and 15, respectively. In the seasons in which he had at least 20 goals as of December 23, he topped 50 goals each time, except for 2017-18, when he fell just shy with 49 goals. Below are tables of his statistics through December 23 and his overall statistics.
NOTE: the 2012-13 season is omitted due to the lockout that caused the season to not begin until the New Year.
Ovechkin’s Year-to-Year Statistics
Ovechkin will likely have trouble maintaining his current pace of goal scoring as his shooting percentage through December 23 sits at 20.6% which is almost twice his career shooting percentage of 12.6%. He has scored 29 goals for the 2018-19 season, on 141 shots on goal. His shooting percentage generally ranges between 10-15%, except for 2010-11, in which it was only 8.7% and he ended up with only 32 goals. If he maintains his current pace of shots, this would project to be a total of 330 shots, with 189 shots to come after Christmas. If he shoots at his career shooting percentage for the remainder of the season, he would score 24 more goals and end up with 53 goals for the year. In comparison to previous years, 141 shots on goal through December 23 is a relatively low number of shots for the Capitals’ captain to take. Last season through December 23, he had 162 shots on goal. He had only 122 shots on goal through December 23 in 2016-17 in a year that was relatively down for him on both the goal scoring and shots taken. In 2015-16, he had 162 shots and in 2014-15, he had 157. Assuming that his shot rate for the remainder of the year is more akin to his typical pace since the 2013-14 season, he would likely average about 4.55 shots per game, which would be 213 shots and result in 26 goals over the remainder of the season, which would equate to an eventual total of 55 goals. Note: the projected shot rate in this case is based on his performance since the 2013-14 season, inclusive.
By Diane Doyle