While Alexander Ovechkin has enjoyed individual success in his playoff career (84 games, 82 points), has it been enough to irrefutably prove his team is holding him back?
Of his 84 total playoff games, 29 of them have been elimination games. This means that in over a third of his playoff career he’s either had a chance to knock a team off or needed a win to keep his hopes alive.
In 55 career non-elimination playoff games he has 29 goals and 28 assists for 57 points and a 1.03 points per game average. That’s pretty disgusting in a good way. In elimination games his average drops off somewhat to 0.86PPG (12G, 12A, 25P). That was the difference this season between 3rd in league scoring (Crosby 1.06) and 18th (Bergeron 0.85).
Now, 0.86 PPG is nothing to sneeze at. It should probably still be enough if you have a decent supporting cast.
Breaking the elimination games down even further, Ovechkin played between 17-21 minutes eleven times. He put up 6G and 3A for 9P (0.81) and the team went 5-6 in those contests. Interestingly, Ovechkin racked up 8 out of those 9 points in the 5 wins for a staggering 1.6PPG. In the 6 losses he went scoreless five times and tallied just one lonely assist for a dismal .09PPG average.
You could look at that one of two ways: 1)He may bring it some of the time but sometimes he clearly doesn’t. Couple this with his overall PPG drop in elimination games and maybe some of that talk of the Great Eight under producing when it really matters is based on fact.
2)Sometimes the other guys need to step up.
I personally think the team going roughly .500 in these 11 games directly and solely based on the production of one player is the best evidence to suggest the Caps aren’t deep enough to support a star of Ovechkin’s caliber.
But looking objectively, that’s only 11 games out of 29. We’re talking about a perennial division/league leading team. Over 8 playoff years they must have had at least some other guys that wanted to contribute. Unfortunately, whether unintentional or not, Alexander Ovechkin doesn’t let them.
When you ask “where were his team mates?”, the answer is usually “on the bench”.
In a ridiculous 15 out of 29 elimination games Ovie skated more than 21 minutes. He put up 5G, 9A and 14P for a 0.93PPG average but his team suffered hard, going 4-11. The more a part Alex tries to play, the worse off the Caps are. Think I’m crazy? If we up the ante, he played 23+ minutes a shocking 9 times. He personally shot up to 2G, 8A and 10P for a whopping 1.11PPG, but the team went an aggravating 1-8.
So that covers 26 out of the 29 elimination games the Caps have played in the Ovechkin era. What about the other three? In those, he played under 17 minutes of ice time. Guess what happened? The club won ALL THREE of those games. He had 1G and 1A, and was shutout once.
To summarize his career playoff elimination game history:
23 or more minutes, 1.11PPG, 1-8 record, 0.11 winning percentage.
21 or more minutes, 0.93PPG, 4-11 record, 0.26 winning percentage.
17-21 minutes, 0.81PPG, 5-6 record, 0.46 winning percentage.
less than 21 minutes, 0.78PPG, 8-6 record, 0.57 winning percentage.
less than 17 minutes: 0.66PPG, 3-0 record, 1.00 winning percentage.
When his team mates are allowed to play a meaningful role, they actually make a difference. Who’d have thought it?
Want more proof? Check in tomorrow for part 3 of the 5 part series.