Wednesday, February 06, 2008


James Mirtle, who always seems to be three thoughts ahead of everybody, notes that Alex Ovechkin is having one of the greatest goal-scoring seasons in NHL history.

Put it this way: Ovechkin, after scoring tonight, has 46 goals through 55 games for the Washington Capitals, whose average game has just less than six goals.

In comparison, remember Wayne Gretzky's record 92-goal season in 1981-82, the year he got 50 in 39 games? That was in an environment, so to speak, of almost nine goals per game. (There were 712 goals scored in the Edmonton Oilers' 80 games that season, 8.9 per game.)

Ovechkin is accounting for 14% of all goals in the Capitals games. Gretzky accounted for 13% in all goals scored in the '81-82 Oilers games. That was in era when top-end forwards played 28-30 minutes a game (Ovechkin averages 23 minutes a night), teams converted power plays at a much higher rate and a goalie with .890 save percentage got a ticket to the All-Star game instead of Grand Rapids.

Hopefully this puts what Ovechkin is doing is context; it's not meant to be definitive. Bottom line, so long as there's cats such as Mirtle out there, we'll get closer to understanding hockey stats a bit better. Speaking of cats, Pavel Bure's 2000-01 season, when he scored 29.5% of the Florida Panthers' goals (59 of 200), might be the most underappreciated goal-scoring season.

Ovechkin '08: One of the greatest goal-scoring seasons of all time? (Mirtle)

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