Friday, July 23, 2010

Alex Ovechkin, Greatest Goal Scorer.....ever?

It may be a little premature to make the above statement, but over the first five seasons of an NHL career Ovechkin just may very well be the top all-time. Firstly, he has notched 269 goals over his first half decade which is overall the fifth most ever over the first five. Gretzky is far and away the leader with 356 markers during one of the highest scoring eras in hockey history. This is where the difficulty of comparing eras comes to the forefront. As I've stated before, does a great job at solving this problem with a stat called Adjusted Goals.

Adjusted Goals involves putting each season into a "neutral" scoring era of 6.00 goals per game and an 82 game schedule. As shown in the chart at the bottom during Gretzky's first five seasons the league average for goals per game was 7.67. This is almost a one/third higher scoring rate than Ovechkin's first five year NHL average of 5.83. Further still, Gretzky's league average is 80% higher than that of Nels Stewart's first five seasons of 1925-1930. Below is the Adjusted Goal scoring totals when each season's total is compared to a level of 6.00 league goals per game.

There you have it, Ovechkin's 269 in a low scoring era translates to 306, while Gretzky's 356 in a high scoring era drops to an even 300. As well, "Old Poison" Nels Stewart's 138 goals in 208 low scoring era games converts to the fourth greatest five year start to a career in NHL history.
Other somewhat unexpected names on the list are Boston's Marty Barry who's 100 actual goals in the early '30s adjusts to 206 and the enigmatic Ziggy Palffy who's 168 "dead puck late '90s era" goals adjust to just over 200. Also, often forgotten Hall of Famer Cooney Weiland scored 109 goals in his first five years which adjust to 213. 43 of his goals were scored in 44 games in 1929/30 in one of the greatest seasons in NHL history. Projected to 82 games and a neutral 6.00 G/GP his 74 adjusted goals ranks as the fifth highest season in NHL history.
Back to Ovie, not only are his 306 adjusted goals the greatest start in history, it is also the fourth most adjusted goals in any five year period of a career. Only Brett Hull's incredible run in the early '90s, Phil Esposito's groundbreaking run in the early '70s and Gretz's 3rd through 7th seasons produced more adjusted goals.

"Old Poison"


Geoff_9 said...

Greatest Goal Scorer Ever?? ... You definitely can't give him THIS title until Ovie actually learns to step it up for THE big games.

So far, he's choked on a few game 7's, the 2010 Olympics, the 2005 gold medal World Junior game, and even this year's scoring race (for the Art Ross and Rocket Richard Trophies).

Until he actually pulls through in the big games, your impressive imaginary calculations are absolutely meaningless.

Geoff_9 said...

PS ... Great picture of Nels Stewart ... Probably the greatest goal scorer I've never heard of ;P

Nitzy said...

Geoffy, these "impressive imaginary calculations" are not the work of myself but the good folks at As for them being meaningless, you have to admit it is nearly impossible to compare eras in which two, three or even four additional goals in each and every game were scored. "Adjusted Goals" is nothing revolutionary or even new for that matter (I remember reading about such things in the Hockey Compendium in the mid '80s)it is a way of attmpting to putsome perspective to the numbers.

I realize you're more of a sentimentalist than a stats lover, all I'm saying is Ovechkin has for five years scored at a rate unprecedented in NHL history.

Geoff_9 said...

Should we also adjust Ovechkin's goals because of all the games against weak division rivals (Atlanta, Florida, Carolina and Tampa) ???

I imagine he scores heaps of goals against these weak division teams ... but I'm only assuming ... no stats to back this up (haha).

During the past five years, they've mostly been very poor teams.

Anonymous said...

Ovechkin actually has a higher PPG outside of his "weak division" than he does in it. Don't forget this past season he missed half the games against Florida for instance.

As far as big games, Ovechkin is the active leader in points per game in the playoffs. Don't let the choke jobs of guys like Fleischmann, Green, and Semin cloudy Ovechkin's accomplishments.

Anonymous said...

[quote]the 2005 gold medal World Junior game[/quote]

What about WJC 2003? (people really forget about this one) He played a key role on the game winning goal against Canada in Canada (and was a top goal scorer of the tournament).
BTW, he entered the game already injured in 2005 (he got initial injury against Curtis Murphy at the last RSL game before WJC by being drilled head first into the boards (pity there is no video anywhere of that incident, I thought Ovechkin's career had ended right there), then he got reinjured against USA in the semi's, doctor advised him to not take part in the finals (BTW don't remember anyone giving credit to Russia beating those favoured US teams). And in the finals did you really expect that Russia's team beating Getzlaf and company? Don't remember anyone bashing Crosby failing in the Memorial Cup finals.

Against Montreal Ovechkin actually scored a good goal in game 7 (and an assist) but it was waved off for no reason (IMHO).

[quote]Should we also adjust Ovechkin's goals because of all the games against weak division rivals (Atlanta, Florida, Carolina and Tampa) ???[/quote]

You think Gretzky never played weak teams especially in 80s?

As for Olympics, terrible play by the whole team. When the team doesn't crap the bed and every shot goes in Ovechkin does what he did in Turin by scoring GWG against favoured Canada.

He wasn't a top gun but played his role at the World Championships 2008 against Canada in Canada against Getzlaf, Towes, Nash, Staal and other big boys, and Russia won against the odds (are there actually tournaments that aren't played in Canada these days? Canadians are always playing within their comfort zone, at home).

Tim said...

Geoff, your facts are majorly off. Ovechkin has yet to choke in a Game 7 - he's had at least one point in 3 of the 4 Game 7's he's played in, and it should have been 2 in 2 of them. The problem in Game 7's has been the rest of the Caps, and especially the 2nd line. He didn't choke in the scoring race this year - he was 1 goal behind with 9 less games, and that 1 goal was because of a horrible call in a game against Montreal. The SE division has produced 2 Stanley Cup winners in the last 6 seasons, and sent a team to the ECF in another season. And it's not the division Ovechkin has the best points/game average against - that would be the Atlantic.

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