Photo credit: Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin probably won’t hit 50 goals in 50 games. Even with his four-goal night against the Tampa Bay Lightning the other night, his chances of hitting 50 goals in his last 50 regular season games seems unlikely. Going by the NHL standard (and arbitrary) definition of 50 goals in a team’s first 50 games of a season, it’s even more unlikely.
But that shouldn’t lessen what he’s is doing right now. Ovechkin’s 2013-14 season could be historic yet.
Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates had a long, insightful interview with CBC’s After Hours’ Scott Oake and Kelly Hrudey following the Caps’ 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames. Oates could have been a big curmudgeon after his team’s embarrassing loss on Hockey Night In Canada. Instead, he was open, honest, and he gave insight into his long playing career and the way he coaches his players.
If I had unlimited time with Capitals players, this is exactly the type of interview I’d want to conduct. Maybe with a few more jokes.
Oates talks in detail about Ovechkin’s renaissance under his tutelage. He defends Braden Holtby‘s angry shouting at the bench after being pulled. He defends his comments about Tomas Hertl‘s “disrespectful” between-the-legs goal. He shares a humorous story from his Caps playing days about he and Calle Johansson‘s beef at practices. He even gets asked about his resemblance to actor Ray Liotta.
Photo credit: Chris Gordon
A 24-year-old Mike Knuble, then a promising forward prospect, played nine games for the Detroit Red Wings during the 1996-97 season.
Players who were still playing during Knuble’s first season in the NHL include Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek, Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, Mark Messier, Dino Ciccarelli, Brian Leetch, Grant Fuhr, and Ron Hextall.
Just days after Knuble’s first game, Phil Collins announced that he was leaving Genesis to focus on his solo career, M.C. Hammer wasn’t yet bankrupt, and it would be months before The Daily Show debuts on Comedy Central.
I guess what I am trying to say is Knuble is
old getting up there in years, but don’t tell him that.
Alex Ovechkin kept his pace for an 82-goal season intact against the Islanders which got me thinking: is 50 in 50 even close to a reality?
50 goals in the first 50 games is a rare feat indeed. It has only been done by five players: Maurice Richard in 1945. Mike Bossy in 1982. Lemieux in 1989. Brett Hull did it twice, and in back-to-back seasons no less (1990-1 and 1991-2). The Great One accomplished the feat three times: 1982, 1984 and again in 1985. So why not Ovechkin?
To estimate his chances I will use something called a Monte Carlo simulation. It starts with me using the shots on goal and shooting percentage for Ovechkin since he made his debut in the league 5 years ago to the last game of the regular season in 2009-10. Only regular season games were counted. For instance, he has only been held to zero shots on goal 3 out of 396 games, or .76% of the time. He has shot 20% in 32 of his regular season games, or 8.08% of the time.
Using this data, and Excel’s random number generator, I simulated goal-scoring totals for 50 games. Then, I ran this 50-game season 10,000 times and calculated the results.
Before I reveal the chances, take a guess at what you think they are. I’ll wait….
Ok, now that you have your guess, let’s look at the numbers.
It’s no secret that Mike Knuble is a fan favorite not only among Capital fans, but around the NHL in general. He’s a hard-working winger who lurks in front of the net, regularly crashes the crease and & capitalizes on rebounds in front of the net. This garbageman-mentality helped him score goals at a higher rate in 2009-10 (.42 per game) than in any other season in his career. And he did it all at the ripe age of 37.
But we here at RMNB are worried. Should Mike Knuble’s age cause us to temper our expectations in 2010-11?
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