Alex Ovechkin and the One-Dimensional Offense


Photo: Nate Congleton

Your boy J.P. shared a stat today that worries me: Alex Ovechkin has just one assist during even-strength play this season. As I’ve been ranting all season [no, seriously, a lot, a whole bunch, really], the Ovechkin line has been a one-dimensional threat. Luckily, that single dimension happens to be the best goal-scorer on Earth, so it’s not so bad, but it could be much better.

Alex Ovechkin has fired 91 shots during 5-on-5. He’s scored 11 goals for a solid 12.08% shooting. But while he’s on the ice, other Caps have fired 133 shots, resulting in just one goal. One. That’s 00.75% shooting. Wow.

Are Capitals not named Ovechkin just really, really unlucky at 5-on-5? Are they giving all the good shot opportunities to Alex and keeping fewer dangerous chances for themselves? I don’t know, but I doubt this will last much longer. Percentages that abysmally low can’t sustain, and we’ve already seen Marcus Johansson increase his personal shot output: spark.  The goals will come– moar of them, and then we’ll see a real multi-dimensional threat from Washington’s top line.

Tagged with:
  • Greg Sinclair

    Sick spark lines bro

  • hahaha get ready for a lot more

    I’m gonna sparkline the ish out of RMNB soon

  • Dave

    Damn, beat me to a spark line comment!

  • Rick Fox

    How many games can be lost or just barely won in an OT shootout before GMGM or even Ted decides something has to change? It should already be recognized by the organization, and it probably is. My fear is the removal of yet another coach. However, this time your all star, worlds best goal scorer, will likely retaliate at the removal of a coach who made him once again elite. It’s time to get it right. The next adjustment is probably the last shot before major apocalypse.

  • Shawn Murphy

    Green’s gonna continue regressing- in the positive sense- and as long as Fehr remains FREE I think they’ll get into at least the 2nd dimension.
    Full-on 3D might be aways off, Nintendo-based handheld hardware to the contrary

  • haha

  • Josh Carey

    We were worried about these types of numbers a month ago, and they haven’t changed. I would have thought they would have normalized (or something close) by now for sure. Can we really attribute it just to bad luck 26 games in? I don’t understand why this is happening.

  • I don’t think it’s entirely luck, but like I said: I don’t really know. I think– like most things– this is a combination. A lot of bad luck and a general strategy of get-the-puck-to-Ovi.

    Get the puck to Ovi isn’t automatically a bad strategy, and I’m not a firm believer that shot-attempt distribution within a line is a zero-sum thing. So far, getting the puck to Ovi has won games and turned him into a league leader again. He’s not even just a power play threat anymore.

    But this *is* really curious.

  • yv

    After seeing such horrendous numbers there is some hope that first line would be super dominant when it will eventually become multi-dimensional.
    Ovi not happy with such numbers, but I think he’s very happy now after seeing today’s World Cup draw for Russia. However, very tough luck for team USA.


    ” The goals will come– moarof them, and then we’ll see a real multi-dimensional threat from Washington’s top line.”

    Much like they have the last two years right? Since when have Majo – Nicky EVER been productive 5on5 playing with Ovi the last 3 seasons? Hint hint… never.


    Luck is a word Ted Leonsis uses very commonly when he discusses the capitals following an annual early playoff exit. Lets not stoop to that level please.

  • Anon

    Why not? Stuff happens. Just because Leonsis may overuse the term doesn’t mean it’s never an apt descriptor.

    Look, the average *defenseman* shooting percentage is something like 2%. This is about a third of that. I feel comfortable saying the fact that the Caps w/AO on the ice have shot less than 1% when it’s someone other than #8 taking the shots is mostly luck.

  • Josh Carey

    I’m not saying it’s all luck, but it certainly is a lot of luck. 1 for 133 at the NHL level? that’s bad luck. It’s not like 90 or 19 are severely under-skilled players. Luck has a lot to do with hockey.

  • Bob

    there is a kid over in russia who could come over soon and make us not so one dimensional


    As I eluded to in my above post, Majo, ovi and nicky have never found sustained 5on5 success in the past. This isn’t luck nor a trend, its common fact. Playoffs are ultimate indicator. This is yet another example of Goates stubbornness to remove Majo from the top line. God forbid Grabo, Erat or Orlov have one bad shift, they would get sent to the minors or benched. You two can keep on “ROCKING THE RED” and renewing your season tickets! That’s all ted cares about. Also, keep reading ted’s take!!


    The way they have treated orlov, im sure word about Goates coaching style has reached the ear of Kuznetsov. It wouldn’t surprise me if he has second thoughts. Kuznetsov is also another “east west” type of guy like Erat… Goates doesn’t like those types of guys.

  • Barrett

    There’s one in Carolina, too.

  • Michael Reschly

    Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.

  • Jack Conness

    I think we all know MoJo is no stud. He really doesn’t deserve a spot on the 1st line, maybe not even the 2nd. I have never been a huge fan of him. He has never really impressed and I think other guys (Fehr, Erat, Wilson) could do a better job in his spot than he is.

  • Michael Reschly

    I assume there’s no easy way to obtain this information — but what percent of 5v5 Ovi assists are from a netcrasher potting a rebound of an Ovi shot? And how often to 19/90 crash the net?


    He played briliantly for the few games this year when he was moved to center. He was physical, tenacious, shooting more and generally in fewer bad areas of the ice where he is prone to cause turnovers. I don’t see why it can’t work again. Oh wait, we are dealing with a stubborn goates of a coach.

  • Shaun Phillips


    I think with Laich out right now (surprise, said no one ever), it’s a perfect time to try some new things out on the lines. Give Wilson a shot in the top 6 to see what he can do. Give Erat the ice time he deserves (and we already saw what Nicky did with Erat when Ovi was out). Move Mojo down to center the Potatoes. Why not? Nothing else has really been producing. 😛

  • Matt Mendelsohn

    Off the top of my head, I think of a line like the Lightning had: Stamkos, Lecavalier and St. Louis. Talk about firing on all pistons. It was like the Three Musketeers. You are correct to point out that our top line has indeed become all for one but not one for all. And also as you point out, worse things could happen than have a top line headed by Alex Ovechkin, but yes, it would be nice to have a three-tiered attack.

  • MuzzMuzzington

    Well, he has one 5v5 assist. So whatever it was from would be 100% that and 0% everything else.

  • Michael Reschly

    I meant in prior seasons. The Knuble (Knuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuble) Era, for example.

  • Graham Dumas

    What eludes me is why you’re trolling up this site instead of fighting with vermontcaps on the wapo board. Go back where you belong. And take your poor spelling with you.

  • Matt Lauer

    How about trading for Gaborik?

  • Graham Dumas

    Seriously? That’s not snarky “seriously”, I’m actually asking. He’s such a hot and cold player, do you think he’d work with our system?

  • Matt Lauer

    I think he’d benefit from playing with Grabo. He is definitely off and on, but he’s all I can really think of that’s potentially available and could provide a boost. (You could probably also do some addition-by-subtraction there by shipping Brouwer out.)

  • Graham Dumas

    Yeah, not sure what we’d have to do to move Brouwer. So you’d trade Erat and Brouwer for a gabo-Grabo line? I can hear Locher having a conniption fit trying to call that…

  • Matt Lauer

    You’ve just convinced me that the trade MUST be done.

  • Graham Dumas

    Poor guy had enough trouble with Nikita Nikitin…


    If you aren’t a wuss you would identify your moniker from WashingtonPost.

  • Graham Dumas

    And if you weren’t such a sad excuse for a human being it might be worth arguing with you. I post on wapo occasionally, and always under my own name–unlike certain people. But I read the boards enough to know you and your kind. Now take your malapropisms and embarrassingly bad grammar, and crawl back into your mother’s basement, or wherever it is you post from.

    Footnote: I recognize this type of poster thrives on flame wars. It was my mistake for engaging and encouraging him. I apologize, and now I’m finished with him.


    I don’t think the time Stamkos became a prominent player (his second year) that he MSL and Lecavalier ever played together. Lecavalier dropped off right around that time.


    Ha, this is hilarious. You’re a nobody. Cause I’ve never heard of you and anyone else who posts anywhere has never heard of you.
    “this type of poster”… oh you’re the noble one huh? Calling me basement blogger.

    The people who revert a level of insulting that includes calling someone a basement blogger and calling out occasional spelling mistakes as to DISCREDIT one’s opinion about a topic are the following;
    1) insecure
    2) completely lack knowledge about the topic in discussion

    You sir qualify on both points. Keep slapping away at your plastic keys sitting behind your monitor, Also, continue advocating for university level grammatical/spelling standards on a hockey chat board oh noble one! I know it makes you feel tough and important.

    Footnote: Ted Leonsis, please hire a better PR publicist to do you dirty work on blog sites, this one here is prone to a short temper and cannot ignore critical comments about ownership and state of this team.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    So in essence, nothing has really changed on this team. Ovechkin is still the only offensive threat aside from maybe Backstrom on our team surrounded by a roster half made up of washed up players and the other half, mediocre.


    Its changed alright. Things have regressed. But the caps are a lucky bounce or two away from winning the cup.

    Mcphee said, “When it happens, it will be glorious” or something like that. We’ll probably need another 17 years of him as general manager though.

  • HarmCity

    What are you talking about? We have Brouwer and Laich. Remember? Laich is a 2C who was stated to be better than Mike Richards and David Backes. Brouwer is also a 40-goal scorer. The puck just isn’t bouncing our way and we frequently run into hot goalies.


    Brouwer has been asked to be a goal scorer! We have to give him some time. Excellent and effective third line role players on stanley cup winning teams suddenly don’t go from 15 goal scorers to 30 goal scorers overnight!! He’s already toned the physical aspect of his game down… he’ll find his offensive game soon. Oates is a master at putting players in positions they have never played or dealt with in their entire careers. Its ‘worked’ with Ovi, it will work with everyone else.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    (shrugs), it’s not really something that has taken me by surprise. Ovechkin isn’t struggling five-on-five by fluke. He’s for one missing a big body up front that McPhee has failed to provide him because he doesn’t like physical players.

    Zubrus, Kozlov and Knuble were all valuable linemates because they at least made use of their body down in the corner with their puckhandling so Ovie had more room out on the ice to work with. Johansson on his line is a joke. I don’t think Backstrom progresses or regresses Ovechkin’s play. Ovie played just fine with Halpern, Nylander, and Zubrus as his centers before Nicky.


    Realistically, Mcphee had a chance to acquire a guy like Penner in the off season for peanuts on the dollar. Didn’t and he’s having a fantastic year with the ducks.

  • johnnymorte

    MoJo and Alex really click well together for some reason. Even when NB19 was out with the concussion under DH, they really hit it off. While he is no stud, Mojo plays really well with 8, and Mojo feeds him well. I really think the key is not Mojo but Backie shooting more. He has a very accurate wrist shot as we have seen on display numerous times in the shootout, and in that spectacular comeback game in LI. In the KHL he was on a goal scoring tear, and while the competition is a bit stiffer here, I think he could easily be somewhere in the 10-12 goal range with a little boost of confidence.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    Pretty typical.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    He’s already toned the physical aspect of his game down…
    Reminds me of Chris Clark. One of the better hitters in the NHL back in Calgary, did a great job his first season here, and then after scoring 30 in his 2nd, the expectations for him changed. Remember when the team told Ovie to tone it down at one point?. Believe it or not, Laich used to be very valuable to this team as a third line player who could wear down a team on the PK and made for a solid guy up front on the 2nd power play unit.

  • The Dude does not abide

    We get it. Both of you are internet keyboard warriors. Enough with the passive aggressive douchebaggery already. The winner of this spat is going to essentially be like the smartest kid with down syndrome.


    I was about to post this comment down below when you mentioned Zubrus. I religiously watched the 2004 stanley cup finals. Calgary and Kipper were a cinderella story and Clark was a HUGE part of that team. Much like Brouwer was for the first cup winning hawks team. Extremely physical on the forecheck, had great net presence and overall toughness to his game that is either makes you or breaks you in the playoffs. It made him. Those guys were most effective playing 15 mins a night giving 120%. Much like what Gregory Cambell, Chris Stewart and Ryan Clowe (w/ sharks) types do for their respective teams. You do not change what works and works well. But apparently oates is a philosopher who is above 100 years of researched hockey history. He is a revolutionary coach. Will be remembered as among the greats like Scotty Bowman!


    I am not/have not been offended by anything Graham Dumas has said. I haven’t ever lost my composure because I have encounter types like Graham all the time in my chatting history. Its soo Ironic that I am called a sorry excuse for a human and a troll by these types when they disagree with the topic in discussion, but then they resort to personal attacks and questioning spelling / grammar. Irony at its finest. Exhibit A above. For me it aint about winning any arguments nor do I perceive my self as aggressive or wanting to instigate personal conflict. The only guy here who is “uMAD bro” is graham. My day continue as joyful as it was before I ‘debated’ with him.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    That SCF was one to remember. Oilers-Canes was a good one too, but talk about one of the more evenly matched series with two of the biggest hardest working teams entering the playoffs that season.

    You’re right about Brouwer, and the scary thing about the Hawks is that they could manage to move Brouwer because they had another in Bickell. You don’t need a goalie to steal you games when you’re so evenly balanced as they were in front of Niemi and Crawford.

    I think Chimera gets more flak than deserved. Always been a great postseason player that does all the little things for this team in other aspects.


    Last year Chimmer exponentially improved his game during the playoffs vs regular season. IMO he was our best forward based on expectations. Aside from Ovi, he was the most physical guy on ice.

  • Its a Secret

    Yet here you are trying to rationalize your actions to everybody

  • Graham Dumas

    “Calmer ‘n you are.” 🙂

  • prut

    soooooooo… I take Mojo in fantasy, yeah?

  • bskillet

    I have seen Mojo and Nic pass up on some really good looks but certainly can’t say anything bad about Nics play, Marcus definitely needs to hit the net more often and by that I mean the inside part of the net.

  • I would!

  • Pat Magee

    Oates’ system……………….

  • Roman Z.

    Not too long ago, Oates’ system had the best PP in the league and one of the top PK … Just sayin’

  • Pat Magee

    Yes, and for that he is a brilliant special teams coach, but the 5v5 play is poop.

    I guess i’m blaming Oates for all our problems in the same way people blame the president? IDK

  • Rhino40

    Would that be “NES Ovechkin™ Stick Of Fire I Scoar Goal®?”

  • Rhino40

    I still think We should have acquired Byron Bitz during the Knuble years and skated them together: The Knubles-And-Bitz line would have given rise to one of the all-time great alliterations in the history of sport–right up there with what might have happened had New Jersey ever employed

    Miroslav Šatan…

  • Rhino40

    hahahaha)))))) best!

  • Shaun Phillips

    Sad part is that’s one of Erat’s strengths, holding onto the puck in the corners, drawing guys to him. They have someone like that on the team, they’re just not using him the right way.