Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals

By the time I was born, Wayne Gretzky had played his last game with the Edmonton Oilers. I never got to see them, and all through my childhood I had difficulty placing Gretzky in an Oilers uniform. I saw pictures and hockey cards, and the occasional TV clip, but it always looked weird to me to see Gretzky in something other than a Los Angeles Kings’ sweater.

The Oilers of the 80s are discussed a lot, and they have an impressive collection of stars and Hall of Famers and records and Stanley Cups. That said, it is difficult to imagine just how dominant they were. The first year they won the Cup, they had 446 goals, 86 more than the second place team. That’s more than a goal a game, which is wild, but in the end, just by visualizing, it would have taken a few weeks dedicated viewing for somebody who wasn’t counting the score to gather that Edmonton was putting goals at a much faster rate than Quebec, the New York Islanders or Minnesota.

That’s why things get recorded. Numbers and the detailed notes taken by stat geeks counting scoring chances or zone entries, or the guys in the NHL booth tracking the data that becomes the skeleton for our Corsi and Fenwick models. There’s that, but there’s also goals and assists and points to record for individuals, and goals for each team. For a sport like mixed martial arts, scores are awarded based on subjectivity. There’s no running point total on the board, just three trained guys sitting near the ring each with an interpretation of what leads the victory.

Even the Chicago Blackhawks this season, the unbeaten-despite-losing-three-games Chicago Blackhawks, have won most of their games by a single goal. Eventually they’ll have to lose, and there have been games when they probably should have lost in regulation already on the year and our impartial judges who see every play but the goals would have told us that. Luckily for the Blackhawks, they record numbers and keep score, and by that measurement they’re off to a better start than any team in history.

The Internet has exposed me to a lot of different hockey opinions. I’ve talked with people who think toughness is the most important thing for a hockey team. Others say speed. Whatever it is, if you take two people just as qualified to sit and watch a hockey game on a delay, with the sound muted, and the plays that led to goals deleted out of the system, I highly doubt anybody would be able to guess who won more than 50% of the time over a long stretch on visuals alone.

Which is why, when somebody like Mike Milbury tracks down Alexander Ovechkin for periods at a time, noting down every flaw, every indication that the former No. 1 overall pick has a bad attitude, I know he’s completely full of it. Mike Milbury may sound like an idiot, and he certainly is a xenophobic misogynist given his propensity to call out foreign players and telling them to “play like a man”. But I don’t think he’s an idiot, he’s a person who watches the game a different way I do and weights certain events differently. He knows, though, that to properly criticize a player, you need to hold every one up to the same standard. Why Ovechkin? Why not track every player, and find the subtle, little things that other players do better than Ovechkin, that explain why his puck possession game has dropped off since 2010? Because Ovechkin scores fewer goals than he used to, and a struggling Ovechkin is a story he can sell. NBC teased the rant was going to go live in the moments leading up to the second intermission to get people to tune in.

gretzky oilers cardPerhaps it’s odd for me to imagine Gretzky in an Oilers jersey because every single thing I’ve seen or read involves Gretzky and his line being a dominant force, creating scoring chances every shift and carving up opponents. I never grew up with that brand of hockey—by the time I was old enough to analyze the game for myself, defensive match ups were common, the trap was used by half the teams in the NHL to some degree and checking lines were coming into fashion.

For the last two seasons, Ovechkin has seen no opponent more often than Brandon Sutter. Sutter has held Ovechkin’s Corsi rate to 43% during that span. Other common match ups against Ovechkin over the last pair of seasons? Nate Thompson, Patrick Dwyer, Adam Hall, Andrew Ladd, Rich Peverley and Andreas Nodl. Most of them have had success carrying the play against Ovechkin. Since the Caps changed their style after deciding they needed to when they ran into a hot goalie in Jaroslav Halak in the 2010 playoffs, it’s been difficult for Ovechkin to re-establish himself as one of the top players in the game. But the thing is, the top players in the game are no longer the “top players” in the game, and you can’t note their dominance on visuals alone. Third line players are now run out frequently against the stars, and there’s only rare stretches of games where a player will be near as dominant as anybody was in the 80s or early 90s.

The thing I’ve noticed about hockey in the last couple of seasons is that hockey is an extraordinarily hard game. The best players in the league at every position look awful some nights, and on most shifts. Consider that an elite offensive player will get three shots a game, then consider that they’ll play 22 or 23 shifts a night. On the vast majority of those shifts, the elite offensive players are effectively shut down, and zone entries are restricted to dump ins as the skating lines are blocked, the passing lanes have sticks in them, and there’s not enough space for the player to generate any real speed. In short, nothing happens for a lot during a hockey game, and it’s easy to look at good defence and call it “bad offence” or “without passion” if you don’t put a lot of thought into it.

(One of the best things I’ve seen is Mark Cuban absolutely eviscerating Skip Bayless for his lazy analysis of the 2011 NBA Finals that Dallas won over Miami. Bayless, a notorious troll, took to American airwaves to call out LeBron James for being passionless and a guy who didn’t want to win. Cuban, owner of the Mavericks, went on air with Bayless after Miami won the 2012 Final and called out all his bullshit, pointing to the things the Mavericks were able to do against LeBron to render him ineffective. Cuban knows more about basketball than Bayless does.

Milbury did this to Ovechkin yesterday Wednesday night. Fellow panellist Keith Jones did it to Alex Radulov last playoffs. You could give me editing software and a full game, and you could get a five minute clip of every player looking lazy and disinterested or making poor plays. When players get on fans’ nerves, the abuse on Twitter and on local call-in shows never stops because the sloppy plays made by these players are going to come under further scrutiny (I believe the quote from The Matrix “would you still have broken it if I hadn’t said anything?” is applicable here).

Not every good play results in a goal, and not every goal results from a good play. Hockey is a game played with lots of statistical noise over the short term, and inferring anything from the overall results of one or two games leads to sloppy forecasts and bad analysis. What I like about legions of hockey fans and bloggers now counting microstats like scoring chances and zone entries is that we’ll have a better sense of who the best players really are in the game, as in which players performed the best, not just produced the most.

By the way, to answer Mike Milbury’s question about Ovechkin and why he fails to live up to Milbury’s expectations is that Milbury’s expectations are too high. Ovechkin is on the wrong side of his scoring peak. The NHL no longer gives out powerplays like cake at a birthday party, and the Capitals are no longer good enough to be able to generate offensive opportunities for Ovechkin. Ovechkin, even with his miserable season, is on pace for 35 goals over 82 games shooting two percentage points below his career average. The expectation for him to get 50 every year is simply putting too much of a burden on a player who physically can no longer do it, not without significant help from his teammates or from variance.

There are a lot of players who seem to fail to live up to the stated expectations of the Milburys, Keith Joneses and Don Cherrys of the world. The era where you can expect superstars to play head and shoulders above everybody else has passed. You need more than a minute of video to show problems and solutions in hockey. You need to get down to it and compare the minute differences between what makes a player worth $6-million and playing first line minutes, and worth $3-million and playing second line minutes. A lot of coaches can spot the trends and send the right guys out in the right situation. When you put thought into it, your arguments get much stronger. Milbury’s argument is weak because he’s not looking for any sort of “solution” to Ovechkin. He’s just looking for another problem to rile up Washington Capitals fans who long for the 2010 season again.

Comments (57)

  1. ” The era where you can expect superstars to play head and shoulders above everybody else has passed.”

    And that’s why I think that everyone who complains about potential talent dilution with expansion is wrong. Talent dilution would be awesome. Brandon Sutter and Nate Thompson shutting down Ovechkin is good hockey, but it isn’t exciting or compelling hockey. I’d love to see Ovechkin and Crosby have a chance to abuse scrubs every once in a while.

  2. Great write up! As a Caps fan, I agree with your points. While I would agree that some of his comments were valid, Milbury’s view on Ovechkin is definitely self-centered and cropped to focus on his negative game rather than his positives (prior to the Philly game, he had a stretch of excellent play, including a hat trick). It’s almost like there’s some sort of underlying hatred towards this player that we aren’t aware of.

    Hockey is a team sport, and there’s more to the game than expecting one player to dominate every single game.

    I wonder if Alexei Yashin has anything to do with his xenophobia and ethnocentrism.

    • @N.N. Milbury’s xenophobia towards foreign players in general, and Ovechkin in particular, is a result of him getting burned by his idiotic trades he made as Isles GM in return for Yashin. Yashin burned him and left a permanent scar.

  3. I can’t stand Milbury. But he wasn’t just criticizing a drop in production, which can be explained the way it was above (wrong side of his peak, fewer pp chances, etc). He was criticizing work ethic, creativity, and attitude, and those criticisms are all valid. And while Ovechkin apologists will point to age and scheme and a changing game to defend his diminishing production, there are no valid explanations for his fits of laziness and poor decision-making and lack of consistent effort when he doesn’t have the puck. And lest we forget, he’s not a $6mm/year first line player, he’s a $9mm/year player, so production can naturally fall off, but effort and attitude cannot.

    • If it’s effort you’re looking for try watching the three previous games, two against the Devil’s and one against the Hurricanes, the second Devils’ game included a hat trick and a primary assistant (a pass). It’s the first time that he looked comfortable on the right wing where he now plays.

      The point of the piece, which is quite valid, is that all players have stretches of bad play that look horrible when placed under a spotlight. Milbury used a game in which every player on the Capitals team was bad. Except for Grubauer who came in for Holtby.

      Moreover, pointing out that goal scoring is a young man’s game and that Ovechkin is on the other side of that hill statistically has nothing to do with being an Ovi apologist. It’s a fact. And an unreasonable expectation. Unless everything falls into place just right in one particular season I don’t expect Ovechkin to see 50 goals again. He’s still a dangerous player though. Give him space and he’ll make that team pay.

  4. Good article. I feel this article also metaphorically applies to bargnani as well

  5. PS. Why is Mike Millbury a hockey analyst- the only markshe has made on hockeyare beating a fan with a shoe and possibly being the worst GM ever.

    • I don’t think the problem should be what he has done to make a mark, as there are many people who haven’t played professionally but still can provide fantastic analysis. The problem is simply that he’s an idiot.

    • Though I suppose the two ‘marks’ you pointed out just support the notion that he’s an idiot…

    • Uh uh. Sam McMaster, Los Angeles Kings. Alexei Zhitnik (prime) for Grant Fuhr ( over the hill, and washed up). Case f’ing closed.

  6. Well written article. One missing fact though – Ovechkin is in the business of winning hockey games. Milbury is in the entertainment business (because he failed in the business of winning hockey games as a GM). All Milbury needs to do is to be “interesting” enough that NBC renews his contract. Sometimes being “interesting” involves stirring the pot and that’s his MO. Is Ovechkin lazy at times? Sure! Is Jerome Iginla or Milan Lucic or Rick Nash or Vinny Lecavalier or Brad Richards lazy at times? No question! So what? This is the regular season in the NHL. Otherwise known as the longest preseason in sports. Win enough to get to the playoffs and we’ll see what you are made of then. Right now, Ovechkin has not won a cup, and so he will get criticized until he does. He needs to bring the passion and effort that we’ve seen in the games leading up to the Flyers game, maybe not every night – but enough that the team can count on him to bring it when they need it. Not every night. And if the effort isn’t there, Milbury can criticize all he wants, who cares? It will be when we need it.

  7. Is the other issue that Milbury wants to see what he is breaking down? You know hockey people, they can find a reason any penalty is a bad call if they want, or the refs screwing them over if they desire that excuse. I think Milbury just likes having a POV and running with it.

  8. Stupid Article.

    OV is on the wrong side of his peak? He’s 27 not 37. There are lots of players older than him with more points than him.

    Malkin is one year younger – do you really expect him to have the same drop off next year? I don’t.

    Great players adjust their game. OV is lazy and hasn’t bothered. He’s still a good player, but he’s no where near Crosby or Malkin anymore.

    • Not peaked as a player but as a goal scorer. Statistically goal scorers tend to score the most early in their careers. Once they hit the other side of 25 the goal scoring ability goes down, thus it becomes harder and harder for a player to hit 50 again unless everything in one season goes just right.

      Ovechkin’s last 50 goal season occurred when he was 25. Not sure why Malkin is applicable here–unless you’re going for the Russian connection–because there is no magic drop off age-line. Just that it gets harder and harder to score goals as they get to the other side of age 25. Malkin’s ability to score 50 is going to drop as he ages, and yeah he had a fabulous campaign at age 26. At the moment Stamkos is the likeliest candidate for another 50 goal campaign as he’s only 23. But next season. And unless another young goal-scoring Young Turk arrives.

      • Malkin’s best season by points per game came in his age 25 season at 1.45 pts/gm. We’ll see if he beats it – and it’s important to note that he might but that it is not a likely outcome – but this year he’s down about 0.3 pts/gm.

    • Just because something discusses something you don’t understand doesn’t make it a stupid article.

      Scoring does peak around 24-26. There’s been a lot written about it but here’s a good post (http://www.arcticicehockey.com/2010/1/21/1261318/nhl-points-per-game-peak-age) for you to read that makes it pretty plain.

      This doesn’t mean that players have no value or that they can’t contribute in other ways which seems to be what you’re hung up on but it means that based on a pretty large data set that the odds are that any given player will have their scoring peak around that age.

      Will there be outliers? Possibly. But even Gretzky peaked in points and points per game in his 21-25 year seasons.

  9. “Luckily for the Blackhawks, they record numbers and keep score, and by that measurement they’re off to a better start than any team in history.”

    Really? Really?

    Sometimes I get the feeling these stats guys would like to hand the Stanley Cup out to whoever has the highest CORSI rating.

  10. P.C. It’s you who is ignorant.

    I’ve read well researched articles out there that shows point production, goal scoring have very strong correlation with age. Point production (and goal scoring even more so) historically really falls off after 25. The peak production was somewhere around 22-23. Of course a player can be more well rounded after 25, but statistics and probability tell us his point production will probably drop noticeably.

    And yes, Malkins point production and goal scoring will probably drop too according to historical data. Statistics have variations yes, but the correlation between age and points output was rather striking so I wouldn’t bet against it.

    Great players adjust, yes, and can still be good, but actual goal scoring and point production goes down after 25. History tells us so. I’m not saying Crosby and Malkin won’t be great in the future. In statistical probability, they probably won’t hit 120 and 113 points by a margin again.

    • “I’m not saying Crosby and Malkin won’t be great in the future. In statistical probability, they probably won’t hit 120 and 113 points by a margin again”

      Crosby’s extrapolated Points/82 games for the last 4 seasons, including this season are: 110 (2010), 132 (2011), 138 (2012), and 121 (2013).

      If he stays healthy, yes he absolutely will hit 120 points. A person would be blind to say otherwise.

      • Injuries can also be an age related problem, so saying that “If he had played he would have scored 120″ isn’t a fair argument unless you are comparing it to only data that extrapolates point totals to exclude the possibility of injuries.

        • Point production for the average player drops off at 26 or so.

          Generally players who don’t maintain their muscle mass and cardio will drop off sooner (i.e. Ovechkin), and players who do so more than the average player will drop off later, generally (i.e.Crosby, Iginla, Selanne etc.).

          I’d say Crosby is less susceptible to injuries now than he was as a 19-year old, but that’s up for argument. See Hall, RNH, Skinner, Landeskog…these guys are learning how to play and not get injured, Sid is an expert at that by now. At any rate he will probably play 80 games or so, unless he gets injured which isn’t likely. If he does he will almost certainly put up 120 points, probably closer to 150.

          I imagine his production will be better when he’s 100% healed, instead of playing bits and pieces of seasons while recovering despite his being 1 year older.

          • The peak production years was at 22-23 as I remember it, so at 26 the level of production has slowed down noticeably. On an individual case to case basis this relationship can of course be overthrown. Why people are talking a lot about Selanne and his production these last years is because he/it is an aberration. His performance doesn’t have many equals historically. However, it doesn’t change the historical correlation above.

            And injuries is not separate from statistics. With age comes increasing amount of injury which obviously affect point production.

            P.C. – And despite the fact that Selanne plays awesome these days, the fact remains that he is nowhere near his best point production days. Same equals all players you mentioned. They hit their peak before 25. I’m sure there are more examples where Swedish players hit their prime later than the norm, because of the swedish educational system they are later bloomers but in general the theory holds.

            It’s obvious that Crosby and many others are a lot more versatile than Ovie, so they will probably fare better throughout their aging in their career. Not everyone can be incredibly razor-sharp like Brett Hull up until age 38 really only having his jaw-dropping one-timer as only prime threat. When circumstance in Washington change for the better (change captaincy?, change system?, Backstrom improves?) Ovie will instantly benefit.

            Crosby is centerman and more robust and wouldn’t be so contingent on the surroundings as Ovie, he can produce with so-so wingers no prob. While that is true, Crosby is now also maybe just one head shot away from retirement. We’ll see what the future holds.

          • “Generally players who don’t maintain their muscle mass and cardio will drop off sooner (i.e. Ovechkin), and players who do so more than the average player will drop off later, generally (i.e.Crosby, Iginla, Selanne etc.).”

            What have you seen that shows that correlation? And what have you seen that proves that it applies to those players specifically?

      • 120 points in an 82 game season is just over 1.46 points per game.

        Here are Crosby’s last four years:

        Age 22 – 1.35 in 81 games
        Age 23 – 1.61 in 41 games
        Age 24 – 1.68 in 21 games
        Age 25 – 1.48 in 22 games

        The only other season that he met that standard was his age 19 season when he was at 1.51 points per game.

        So far he’s right in line with the studies that show that scoring peaks around 24-26. Are their outliers? Absolutely. Will it be Crosby? We’ll see, he definitely could. Odds are though that he won’t.

    • Reread what I said – I did not deny that point production drops as you get older. I simply said that OV’s drop in play is not simply within the norm of GREAT players. His drop off is remarkable, given his claim to be the best player in the NHL only a couple of years ago.

      Gretzsky finished 4th in NHL Scoring at the age of 36 (and 1st a couple of times in his 30s)
      Jagr finished 2nd at the age of 34 (and 1st several times after the age of 26)
      Forsburg finished 1st at the age of 29
      St. Louis finished 1st at the age of 28
      D. Sedin finished 1st at the age of 30
      H. Sedin finished 1st at the age of 29
      Lemieux finished 1st twice in his 30s

      OVs drop off is normal for normal players – we thought he was special – he could have been special – but he wasn’t and isnt.

      I suspect that Crosby will be.

      • “I simply said that OV’s drop in play is not simply within the norm of GREAT players.”

        What have you read that distinguishes peak scoring between ‘normal’ players and ‘great’ players?

        “Gretzsky finished 4th in NHL Scoring at the age of 36 (and 1st a couple of times in his 30s)”

        Gretzky’s peak points per game was 2.77 in his age 23 year. After 25 he never had a mark that matched or exceeded any he put up from 21-25.

        “Jagr finished 2nd at the age of 34 (and 1st several times after the age of 26)”

        Jagr’s peak PPG mark was 1.82 in his age 23 year. He had three years after 26 that exceeded his age 25 season’s PPG including one at 33 in the year after the lockout although that includes 52 powerplay points in a season which had an explosion of powerplays (http://drivingplay.blogspot.ca/2011/07/on-goal-decline-since-2005-06-and-its.html) so I think that discounts that season as an outlier.

        “Forsburg finished 1st at the age of 29″

        Forsberg had 1.41 PPG marks in his age 29 and age 30 year so he’s a good choice. His age 32 is the other year where he matches his age 24/25 season marks but it’s in the first season post-lockout and 32 of his 75 points came on the power play.

        “St. Louis finished 1st at the age of 28″

        He’s a huge outlier in general by virtue of being undrafted and that he became such a good player. His best year so far is his age 31 season but he’s been really close in his age 35 and 37 seasons (so far on the latter). It helps that he has had Steven Stamkos added to his line the last couple of years though.

        “D. Sedin finished 1st at the age of 30″

        His peak seasons are his age 29 (1.35 PPG) and 30 (1.25 PPG) which is later but it is also But it was helped out by some great utilization of him and his brother by his coach (http://blogs.thescore.com/nhl/2011/04/04/the-sedin-twins-zone-starts/).

        “H. Sedin finished 1st at the age of 29″

        His peak PPG was that age 29 year at 1.37. See above link for one thing that was in their advantage. Otherwise, their PPG rates have been pretty consistent with his age 25 season.

        “Lemieux finished 1st twice in his 30s”

        Lemieux’s obviously a tough case because of his injuries but his peak PPG marks were in his age 23 and age 27 seasons.

        You’re focusing on comparisons to their peers than to themselves. But there are always going to be outliers.

    • “The peak production years was at 22-23 as I remember it, so at 26 the level of production has slowed down noticeably.”

      Google “hockey players peak” and look at first link. Peak age for production is 25. Crosby is 25. (Age 26 produces higher than 24, and 27 produces higher than 23).

      I just have no idea how you can say that he “probably won’t hit 120 and 113 points…again” after he averaged between 1.35 and 1.7 PPG for the last 3 seasons while recovering from injury, which he got in a freak accident while playing an outdoor game in the rain.

      Since he’s not over the hill as I established, there’s no reason that he won’t produce at that rate if he avoids injury, like he did the 4 full seasons out of his first 5. On the contrary, he will likely produce better than he did while trying to recover from his neck injury/concussion prior to which he wasn’t even allowed to even ride a bike for months.

    • “When circumstance in Washington change for the better (change captaincy?, change system?, Backstrom improves?) Ovie will instantly benefit. ”

      OV has been in constant decline for 4 years. Not sure what Backstrom has to do with this, as he’s a model of consistency. OV wanted Boudreau out and got what he wanted. Clearly, he’s beyond saving and will continue to regress.

      Meanwhile, Sid is getting better every day and will win the Art Ross and Hart Trophies this year and next.

      • Four seasons. Please. Google is your friend. Get your facts right. Ovechkin had an incredible 50-59-109 point season in 2009-10, missing out of the Richard by one goal.

      • I also don’t agree that Ovechkin will automatically benefit from any changes especially since the Japers’ Rink piece that Cam links pretty clearly shows that the changes that have happened have hurt Ovechkin.

        “OV has been in constant decline for 4 years.”

        Since his peak at 24 in PPG he has but again that JR piece explains some important factors behind it beyond the nebulous ‘loss of heart, desire, etc’.

        “Not sure what Backstrom has to do with this, as he’s a model of consistency.”

        I don’t know, his production seems to fluctuate consistently by 0.2 PPG up and down each year. Guess that’s consistent.

        “OV wanted Boudreau out and got what he wanted.”

        I find it hard to believe that a guy would want the coach that revived the team and coached him to his best years.

        “Clearly, he’s beyond saving and will continue to regress. Meanwhile, Sid is getting better every day and will win the Art Ross and Hart Trophies this year and next.”

        It`ll be interesting to track them both to see how they do compared to the average peak. A short season gives less time for the percentages to even out.

  11. “the Capitals are no longer good enough to be able to generate offensive opportunities for Ovechkin”

    Poor guy. Meanwhile Crosby just stands at the top of the circle waiting for the incredible Pascal Dupuis (30 pts/yr) to do all the work. Oh wait..

  12. Here are Ovechkin’s extrapolated Points/82 games in the last 4 seasons.

    124 (2010), 88 (2011), 68 (2012), 65 (2013)

    Considering he is his team’s Captain, and has the largest NHL contract ever (which has 8 years left), I’d say the problem is not with anyone’s expectations.

    Since he doesn’t play any defence whatsoever, is in clear offensive decline, and has changed his style of play from exciting to depressing, that’s definitely cause for concern.

  13. Ovechkin is certainly open to legitimate criticism, but emperor Milbury wears no clothes. His prejudices and biases are an open book. I’d love to see a “lowlight reel” of his playing, coaching and managing days. Since daily outrage sells in the US (Limbaugh, Hannity, etc.), I guess Mike is the right man for the job…

    • Right.

      But just because the post correctly points out that Milbury’s criticism is not necessarily fair does not make its own assessment of the situation accurate.

    • Milbury’s lowlight reel is all over the internet and YouTube. It’s widely know that MM is an idiot, I’ve never heard anyone say otherwise.

      The thing is, this time he’s right. As exaggerated and biased that MM is, nothing that he said this time wasn’t true. Somehow, people still think OV will bounce back or that expectations are too high. Many of us have been enjoying the trainwreck since 2010, and were anticipating it before that.

      He will single-handedly ruin the Capitals franchise and then run off to Russia unless something is done, and soon.

  14. Grant -

    I think you and I should be friends.

  15. I dont disagree with that

  16. Uh, Mike Milbury, you don’t need to post under the pseudonym of Grant. It’s kind of awkward to pretend it’s not you, what with the really obvious hate boner for Ovechkin, and the refusal to listen to other logical comments, and turning around and refusing to apply the same logic to Crosby.

    • “the refusal to listen to other logical comments, and turning around and refusing to apply the same logic to Crosby.”

      Yeah no I did, and then proved them all wrong. Players don’t peak at 22-23, Sid produces at a 120+ pace every year, OV produces less every year, players who put in effort to stay in shape peak later than those who prefer to hang out on the beach or a sailboat during the offseason…just kinda obvious stuff I thought but I guess u just don’t get it, all good tho

      • My memory might fail me but as I remember it, peak goal scoring peaks earlier than peak points production. It’s two different matters. I believe goal scoring peaks a little earlier at approx 23 and peak points total was later, more at 25 historically from the numbers I covered. Malkin is 26, Crosby 25. Make of it what you will.

        And no, you can’t interpolate points based on 82 games. Injuries are part of how it’s counted. Based on that reasoning one could argue Marleau would have averaged 147 goals and 213 points had he been injured after his first 5 games. It’s just not intellectual honesty. Crosby will put up huge PPG avg, no doubt, but will he be healthy enough to get Art Ross? The same question as was lingering with Lindros and Forsberg. We’ll see.

      • Try again, bro. Sorry, but point projections just don’t cut it. Sude Crosby might produce at pace– but if doesn’t finish, it doesn’t count. Sorry. Just because he looks like he’s going to doesn’t mean the same as if he actually, you know, finishes.

        Crosby could be on pace and get his head splattered over the rink tomorrow– and in fact, given his concussion history, has a greater likeliness to go down harder to injury. He’s learned how to avoid injury you say? Gosh, I guess he must be able to avoid all errant hits and complete accidents from here on out! You just can’t use that as an argument for his perpetual greatness. I could say the Blackhawks are currently on pace to finish the season without a single regulation loss, but that isn’t necessarily what’s going to happen, hmm?

        Look, man. You are clearly biased, spell poorly, and are getting facts downright wrong (last four seasons for Ovechkin? Jesus, you don’t watch hockey at all, do you?) in your haste to slaver all over Crosby and your team and crap all over Ovechkin and his team. You’re wrong, people here have told you you’re wrong, but you keep right on banging your head into that brick wall.

      • You said a lot of things but you didn’t really prove anything. Although it would be good to see some references beyond ‘hey, it’s common sense!”.

        And some of the things that you ‘proved’ were rebutted.

  17. I watch a hell of a lot of hockey. The author of this article is over analyzing this to death trying to defend OV. Most of us know you can find enough stats to spin whatever truth you are looking for. The cold hard truth is MM was pretty much bang on with his assessment. And OV ‘s fall from grace has been dramatic and not just a gradual decline from his peak as many of you argue in his defense. I have no bias against OV…In fact I would rather see him at least resemble his old self for entertainments sake. The fact that MM is the leading candidate for worst GM of all time makes him an easy target for criticism. But whether I agree with him or not… I love the fact the he is one of the few – if not only color man with the nuggets to call it as he see’s it. Way too many of these former players turned analysts are afraid offending their union brothers and have nothing offer.

    Also, While everyone is on the subject of the age of a players peak performance and point to the 20-25 year range. I hope team Canada knows this when assembling the Sochi team.

  18. Putting Don Cherry in the same class as Milbury and Jones is just not fair. Cherry is the most knowledgeable hockey commentator out there, those other guys are just ignoramuses.

  19. I agree to a point that the era of superstars dominating a game is mostly over. It’s interesting though because I know without looking at stats (and we all could have predicted before the season started) that:
    -Stamkos would be leading or very close to leading the league in goals
    -Sidney Crosby would be doing the same in points
    -Boston would be at or near the top in GA and PK
    -Pittsburgh would be at or near the top in GF and PP
    -the Sedins and Bergeron would be near the top in +/-
    -Datsyuk and Bergeron would be near the top in faceoff %

    Meaning, that although the time when players and teams completely dominated other teams (most Chicago and Boston wins so far have been by 1 goal, their records appear more dominant than the games have actually been) –there are still very nuanced things certain players and teams are doing that stand above the rest. We know we will see certain players and teams at certain areas of the stats board.

    Now back to Ovechkin. He’s still an elite player and goal scorer. Last year everyone was saying he had an off season yet I believe was the 5th highest goal scorer in the league. His play didn’t appear as dominant as in years past, but he was still doing the small nuanced things that put the puck in the net better than around 266 forwards that got regular playing minutes last year. Only 4 did it better.

    I think we were all hoping the slight decline in dominance last year wasn’t and indicator of further decline. He still finished the season as one of the top elites and we expected he would continue to do the same. We knew Stamkos, E Staal, Tavares, Crosby, Neal would be producing even if they aren’t dominating. To not have Ovechkin producing at the same rate as these players is a total let down. It a reasonable expectation he currently isn’t meeting.

    At the moment he’s not far off from making the jump into the top group of elite scorers and maybe he will. If he decline further Washington might need to reconsider who they have built their team around. He’d round out a more defensive minded team like Boston or Nashville and probably prove higher value on those teams.

  20. This is an incredibly insightful article. I am NOT a numbers guy, but if I had the money to do so, I would love to pay to have a bunch of your like minded colleagues getting a room, and not let you out until you all decided on a straight set of guidelines that would allow the further hiring of people to track all of the important stats for every single game of the year. A rotating set of impartial statisticians for every game so that home/ road stats can genuinely be relied upon. Further, these stats would be held up to peer review until a can since is can be reached. Take those agreed upon stats, and figure out the best possible formula to gain the best explanation for current standings, as well as prediction of the future performance. During the offseason, these same people can be used to get a handle on teams of the past and compare them to present teams as best as could be done based on different styles of eras.
    Anyway, just a thought maybe all of you guys that have a good handle on these metrics can get together and figure that out on your own.

  21. I write these comments, because I am a Los Angeles Kings fan. From what I understand, the Los Angeles Kings are at the top of Fenwick/Corsi, and that they are a great indicator of future performance ( so, what’s with the Ducks?) I find it very difficult if not impossible to find updated daily or weekly Corsi/Fenwick rankings. Again, I am NOT a hard numbers guy, but they should be out there for everyone to digest.

  22. S Howarth has said his client didn’t know at the time of his arrest that pressure cookers were used in last month’s Boston Marathon bombings have been confusing, horrific, tragic, scary, and so much more.
    Security is especially tight in the city of Boston after two explosions went off near
    the finish line area of the Boston Marathon.

    Security is especially tight in the city of Boston after two explosions went off near the finish line of
    the marathon yesterday.

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