Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Alex Ovechkin's assists

Ovechkin's assist totals: 54, 26, 47, 54, 59, 53, 27. At ES, 23, 25, 32, 27, 36, 36, 17. Over the last five years in ES primary assists/60, that goes .97, .81, 1.30, 1.08, 0.39. I'm skeptical Ovechkin took such a big step backward in his play that he "deserved" to lose about half of his ES assists. In other words, I think 27 assists is a severe underestimate of his "true talent" for the 2011-2012 season.

Given that differences from ~league average in on-ice shooting percentage, outside of the exceptional cases, stem from a player's individual shot location, not the shot location of his linemates, and given Ovechkin shot 10.9% at fives himself but as a team he got 8.75% on-ice shooting, it might be worthwhile to see just how well his support was converting, and whether that rate is egregiously low or high.

Doing from simple multiplication from the data at BtN:**

*Strangely, when I divide SFON/60 by GFON/60 I don't get on-ice shooting%. I'm looking into that, not sure why that is. Fixed the math. SFON60 is saves for, not shots for.

**BtN only goes to the first decimal place so multiplying out doesn't give you whole numbers. I rounded, and the error shouldn't be more that +/- 5 shots or so.

In 07-08, Ovechkin took 260 shots and scored 38 goals. While on-ice the Caps got 803 shots and scored 86 goals. So with him on the ice but without him shooting the Caps scored 48 goals on 543 shots, 8.8% shooting.

In 08-09, we're looking at his linemates giving him 45 goals on 476 shots, 9.5%.

In 09-10, 51 on 392, 10.7%.

In 10-11, 45 on 434, 9.0%.

And in 11-12, 30 on 340, 7.7%.


If this season was any indication, hitting 9% every year would have placed Ovechkin in the top-50 consistently. But his 7.7% this season placed him around 150th, on par with Marcel Goc, RJ Umburger and...Evgeni Malkin. A rate closer to what he'd put up the previous four seasons would have left him between 35 and 40 teammate goals (which should add a few more assists, but not a lot more. We're looking for 10-20 "missing" assists, not just ~5).

There are a lot of good players in the lower part of the list. While you should be able to count on a top-six forward to actually place like a top-six forward (top-120 in the league; you can check out the list of forwards, minimum 10 TOI/60 and 40 GP, here), there appears to be a decent bit of randomness to this number. If Ovechkin wants his ES assist total to climb back up, the most reliable method I guess would be quantity.

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