LCS Hockey: Born Again
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June 19, 2019
Online: 95

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Trigger Happy

Alexander Ovechkin
photo by Matthieu Masquelet

In Sunday’s 3-1 loss to Carolina, Alexander Ovechkin fired 11 shots on net. While getting 11 shots in a game would be a career highlight for most, it’s nothing new for Ovechkin. It was the second time in three games he posted 11 shots, having also ripped 11 at Joey MacDonald in a 5-2 win over the Isles on December 4. Ovechkin’s season-high for shots came on November 15 when he blasted 12 at Scott Clemmensen and the New Jersey Devils, scoring twice.

Ovechkin has recorded 10 or more shots 21 times in his career. His personal best came on October 7, 2006, when he registered 15 shots and two goals in a 5-2 win over the Hurricanes.

Ovechkin leads the league with 153 shots on goal. He’s averaging an ungodly 5.88 shots per game, up from his already absurd 5.16 career average. He’s on pace for 471 shots, which would eclipse his career-high of 446 set last year.

After just three seasons in the league, Ovechkin has already notched two of the top five highest shot totals in NHL history. But he’s got a ways to go before catching Phil Esposito, who rocketed 550 shots on net in 1970-71.

Even more incredible, Esposito recorded those 550 shots in a 78-game schedule. He averaged 7.05 shots per game that year, resulting in a career-high 76 goals and 152 points.

But can one truly say Ovechkin is the best shooter in hockey when he scores on so few of his overall chances? Because he’s also missed the net 61 times, the most in the league. So if you add it all together, Ovechkin has taken 214 shots this season, connecting for 14 goals. That means he’s scoring on 6.5% of his chances. Not exactly efficient.

Last season, Ovechkin led the league with 65 goals, but he also led the NHL with 199 missed shots, which were 82 more than second-place Jarome Iginla. He had to shoot the puck 645 times to produce those 65 goals, meaning he cashed in on 10.1% of his overall chances. Kid Crosby, who is hardly recognized as an elite sniper, scored on 10.3% of his overall shots taken.

Mike Ribeiro had a freakish statistical season last year, scoring 27 goals on a mere 142 total shot attempts for a 19.0% conversion rate. That was a complete fluke. Daniel Alfredsson was tops among true goal-scorers, scoring 40 goals on 287 shot attempts (13.9%). Dany Heatley (13.3%), Ilya Kovalchuk (13.2%), and Evgeni Malkin (13.1%) were also near the top in shot efficiency.

Of course, even Ovechkin’s failed shots are creating rebounds and establishing tempo. He needs to keep firing the pill. But if you had one shot to win the game, would you want the puck on Ovechkin’s stick?

Oh, wait. We already know the answer to that. Never mind.

2008-09 - 3
2007-08 - 7
2006-07 - 4
2005-06 - 7

15 shots - 1
13 shots - 1
12 shots - 3
11 shots - 7
10 shots - 9

550 – Phil Esposito, Boston, 1970-71
446 – Alex Ovechkin, Washington, 2007-08
429 – Paul Kariya, Anaheim, 1998-99
426 – Phil Esposito, Boston, 1971-72
425 – Alex Ovechkin, Washington, 2005-06

LCS Hockey: Born Again
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