There are a lot of excuses reasons why Alex Ovechkin isn’t performing like we know the Great 8 can, but the one that really makes me scratch my head is when people say that he is “saving himself” for the playoffs.
I would have to think if a player can score goals, then he would score goals – especially if, let’s say, the team was to get mired in a prolonged non-win streak or the power play was just, well, not powerful.
I decided to look at all skaters since the lockout who played in back to back years, with the 2nd year also having playoff performance. There were 1,155 players that fit this criteria.
I also grouped skaters by goal totals in groups of ten. So 20-goal scorers were lumped together, 30-goal scorers, etc. Then I grouped them by how much of an improvement or decline they saw from year “y” to “y+1.” To keep the focus on star performers, I am interested in 30+ goal scorers.
Out of the 1,155 skaters in the pool, 75 were 30+ goal scorers who saw a year over year decrease in production but were for one reason or another not able to “turn it on” during the playoffs. Maybe they were hurt, maybe they were defended differently, maybe they just couldn’t do it.
I then narrowed it down to skaters that saw their goals per game (G/Gm) decline from one year (y) to the next (y+1), but see an increase in G/Gm during the playoffs. For example, if a player scored .5 goals per game during the 2009 regular season, then dipped to .3 goals per game during the 2010 regular season only to return to .4 goals per game in the 2010 playoffs, I logged those numbers. So not only did they have to have a decline in regular season production year over year, but they also had to perform better in the playoffs.
There were 215 players out of the pool of 1,155 that matched this criteria, but only ten skaters scored 30 or more goals during the regular season. Incidentally, Ovechkin is currently at 49% of last year’s goals per game totals.
|% Decline||Goals scored level||G/Gm (y)||G/Gm (y+1)||Plyff G/Gm||Players|
|31-40%||31-60||0.55||0.37||0.6||S Gagne, B Gionta, D Alfredsson, J Iginla|
|41-50%||31-60||0.48||0.27||0.37||J Arnott, M Sundin, P Marleau, S Doan, J Jagr|
So, only one out of nine “star” players have been able to “turn it on” during the playoffs. My math may be off, but it looks like it happens way less often than people think.