Alex Ovechkin Criticizes Alex Ovechkin’s Plus-Minus

OvechkinRangers

Photo credit: Scott Levy

Earlier this week, former NHLer Marty McSorley took the hatchet out on Alex Ovechkin. Broadcasting for Sportsnet during Monday’s game in Ottawa, he criticized last year’s MVP for not playing defense and being bad during five-on-five, using Ovechkin’s poor plus-minus as an example. Ovi’s defenders were outraged, pointing out the unreliability of plus-minus as a statistic. However, one person seems to buy that criticism: Alex Ovechkin.

“I think we have great offense, but on the defensive side, if you look at my stats, I’m a minus-13 or minus-14,” Ovechkin told reporters after Thursday’s morning skate. “It’s kind of a situation where you want to be better.”

“Defensive side can win the game,” he added. “More responsibility in your zone is going to help your offense as well.”

Ovechkin attributed his poor plus-minus stats to Washington’s struggles five-on-five. While the team leads the league in power play percentage, they are ranked 22nd in five-on-five goal differential. The Caps give up the second-most shots per game. Over half of Ovechkin’s points this year have come on the man-advantage, including 10 of his 11 assists. Twelve of his 30 goals have also been scored on the power play.

Those subpar even-strength numbers, though, are not a condemnation of Ovechkin. During five-on-five, Ovechkin has scored 13 goals on 127 shots. Everyone else on the ice has fired 171 shots, but scored just three. That’s a 01.8% shooting percentage, which most people interpret as startlingly bad luck. If his teammates shot league average when on the ice with him, Ovi would have a positive plus-minus.

“If you score five-on-five, you get a plus,” the captain said. “If you get goals five-on-four, you don’t count pluses. Right now it’s a game where five-on-five is very hard to score.”

“Right now, you can see most of time power play decide the game,” he concluded. “You want to score five-on-five but it’s hard in this league right now because every team play so defensive style of hockey, they put pressure on you, you play against the best line, and best defensemen all the time. It’s situation where you have to work.”

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  • Chris Cerullo

    If he wants to be more responsible in our zone then I have no problem with that as long as he still produces offensively at a high rate because he’s really our only consistent guy outside of 19.

  • Eric

    Another way of our captain maturing, I love our captain, but our defense is killing us, and our secondary not scoring but never thought Ovi would agree with that

  • Kelly Johnston

    I think we all cringe at Ovechkin’s frequently employed spectator strategy in the D-zone, and for the reasons well stated, plus-minus numbers should be taken with a truck load of salt. But to pay attention to anything that a former and still talentless goon who probably spent more days on suspension than on the ice is a bit much.

  • Benjamin Scarbro

    More defensive Ovi… blocking shots… breaking feet… http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/ovi-block.gif

  • Pat Magee

    He’s right. I’ve come to accept the fact that Ovi isn’t famous for his backchecking!

  • ZyphZorg

    “If” sure makes for a pretty catchy song: “If I had a million dollars…”

  • William Obuschking Busch

    funny isnt marty the one that slashed donald in the head with his hockey stick and knocked him out??ovi has never done it keep ur mouth shut marty.

  • yv

    This is Sportnet. Besides MM (another one??) they also have Stock and that is more than any normal hockey fan can see and hear. During last season’ poor Caps start they were filled with anti-Ovis sewage.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    boom
    served

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Alex Ovechkin is a pure goal scorer. Asking him to play defense is like asking a cat to walk on its hind legs. We’ll be disappointed and he’ll look silly.

  • dylan wheatley

    [pierre mcguire voice] he has to play BIG BODY two way hockey if he wants to make it in this league.

  • JH

    He is a WINGER…his defensive responsibility is a fraction of the d-men and the center on the ice at any given time (although I am not absolving him of all defensive responsibility). Point being just that if plus/minus and lack of defensive viscosity is an issue when Ovie is on the ice, what about his linemates such as, ahem, Nicky Backstrom? I think the whole issue is bad luck and overblown, but if we are going to validate this whole line of thinking, gotta examine the center and d-men first.

  • dobermanhockeyfan

    +/- is ridiculous to gauge how well someone is playing D. Are you going to say Ovie was a defensive superstar in ’09-’10?

  • Eric Schulz

    I never thought we should’ve let Semin go. He was a great secondary scorer; he either gave us enviable depth while adding punch on the second line (and made our always-out of depth 2nd line center’s job easier), or the best offensive 1st line in hockey. I’m not sure what the money situation would’ve been, but we needed a guy like him, I didn’t care that he was seen as inconsistent. He was inconsistent if you considered him our top scoring winger, but as the guy behind Ovie, he didn’t need to be. Then, we overpaid Laich and Green… we’re so far up against the cap and yet are incredibly top-heavy. If only we had some cheap, young talent… like Filip Forsberg, or something… I’d also love to get out from under Erat’s ridiculous contract…
    GMGM seems good at drafting; after that, not so much. I didn’t like Burakovsky; last season I think I would’ve nabbed Teravainen after Forsberg instead of Wilson, then we could’ve added grit with Adam Erne this last year instead of Burakovsky. I also thought Shinkaruk would’ve been a better pick, if you want skill, then Burakovsky. So far, I’m not sure I was right about the last part, and I hope I’m wrong about the first; Wilson has fit in well, but it’s hard to imagine he was a better pick than Teravainen. But aside from that, there’s not a lot I could criticize in the draft. We just need to fix the decision making after the draft.

  • Miles

    Can’t blame the team. Every player on that team has a much better plus minus than Ovi.