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.

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This is a Garage League and Other Lockout Lessons

Ted Leonsis

I guess it’s appropriate to start by saying that we’re all unimaginably happy about the return of hockey. That said, we’ve learned a lot over the four-month lockout, and this seems like the appropriate time to take stock.

Lesson 1: Mario Lemieux was right

The NHL is a garage league. I’m not talking about riff-raff players spoiling up the staid finesse hockey of a bygone era; I’m talking about business competence. Since my adolescence, the NHL has lost part or all of three seasons. Fans who have been following hockey for a decade have seen 20% of that time obscured or obliterated by lockouts.

Imagine running a business where you do work 80% of the time. The rest of the time you’re struggling to master a skill most functionally social humans learn in kindergarten: sharing. Your business plan is flawed.

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Old Man Knuble

Mike Knuble

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.

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Above, are highlights from the Caps Pens Alumni Game where the two-period exhibition ended in a 5-5 tie. One of my favorite All-Time Capitals, Peter Bondra, tied the game in the final few minutes with a wicked slap shot from the middle of the circles. In Bonzai’s post-game scrum with the media, he revealed that the scrimmage actually got quite intense.

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Alex Ovechkin: 50 in 50?

ovechkin-goal

Could Ovi join Maurice Richard as one of five players to score 50 in 50?

Could Ovi join Maurice Richard as one of five players to score 50 in 50?

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.

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