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Alex Ovechkin matches Sakic with 30 goals in 50 games

Alex Ovechkin, captain of the Washington Capitals, watches his team practice in Arlington, Virginia, April 27, 2012. The Capitals defeated the Stanley Cup champions Boston Bruins on Wednesday and will face the New York Rangers in the next round of the NHL playoffs. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

KEVIN LAMARQUE

Alex Ovechkin has often been the focus in these playoffs for the wrong reasons.

As in: How little ice time is he getting? How often is coach Dale Hunter keeping him on the bench in key situations?

And how closely does the Washington Capitals captain resemble his previously dynamic, high scoring self?

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Well the Ovechkin we saw in Wednesday's Game 6 was pretty incredible at times, as he scored the opening goal on a well aimed one-timer and had at least two other chances to add to that (including this one from the seat of his hockey pants).

It was a good bounce back from Game 5, in which he didn't even register a shot on goal.

As a result, Washington lives another day, and Ovechkin joined a pretty elite group in the process.

His goal was his 30th playoff tally of his career, tying him with Peter Bondra for the Caps all-time lead and making him the first player to score that many playoff goals in his first 50 playoff games since Joe Sakic did it 15 years ago.

In general, Ovechkin does not have a reputation as a great playoff performer. His teams have never been past the second round, and they've lost in high profile upsets in Round 1 to underdog, defensive teams like the Montreal Canadiens in the past.

By the numbers, however, he's been remarkably productive, with the best goals per game rate and third best points per game rate in the postseason of any player since the lockout.



<h5 style='border-top: #000 1px solid; border-bottom: #000 1px dotted; font:14px Georgia,serif; font-weight: normal; width: 460px; padding: 5px 0; margin: 20px 0 0'>Leading playoff scorers since the lockout</h5><p style='font:12px Verdana,sans-serif; width: 460px; margin: 5px 0 0 0; line-height: 1.4em;'>With 0.60 goals per game, Alex Ovechkin has scored more frequently than any other player in the playoffs since 2005-06</p><iframe src="https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/legacy/static/test/charts/google/google_iframe_04.html?id=000&type=column&ssid=0Ar3M_smeSBJsdF9KOWlyak1PTXJUMGZYb1prS18tU1E&bm=60&lm=55&w=460&h=300&token=1490529312" scrolling='no' frameborder='no' width='460' height='300' style='border-bottom: 1px dotted #000; margin: 20px 0 0' ></iframe>


In fact, his 0.60 goals per game at the moment is one of the highest marks ever, ahead of the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri and Brett Hull.

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Even his five goals this season lead the Capitals and put him tied for fifth in goal scoring in these playoffs.

There's been a lot of debate in these playoffs over whether how Hunter is using Ovechkin is appropriate, especially considering the players who have had more ice time in some games have been pluggers like Troy Brouwer and Jay Beagle.

But one thing we can see is that Ovechkin is getting more starts in the offensive zone and more time on the power play at 3:43 a game than any of his teammates.

His even strength ice time, meanwhile, is still second among forwards, with the main difference from previous years being that his line is simply not way out in front of the second and third units in terms of how much it plays.

For now, that's working – and with the Capitals on the verge of their first trip to Round 3 in 14 years, it's hard to argue with.

Even if we won't see Ovechkin matching people like Sakic all that often from now on.

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<h5 style='border-top: #000 1px solid; border-bottom: #000 1px dotted; font:14px Georgia,serif; font-weight: normal; width: 460px; padding: 5px 0; margin: 20px 0 0'>Playoff goals per game, career</h5><p style='font:12px Verdana,sans-serif; width: 460px; margin: 5px 0 0 0; line-height: 1.4em;'>Minimum 25 goals scored</p><iframe src="https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/legacy/static/test/charts/google/google_iframe_04.html?id=000&type=column&ssid=0Ar3M_smeSBJsdFo3Z05WN1pkYjFoRHVfNTNTQjNvTkE&bm=45&lm=55&w=460&h=300&token=1490529312" scrolling='no' frameborder='no' width='460' height='300' style='border-bottom: 1px dotted #000; margin: 20px 0 0' ></iframe><p style='text-align:right; font: 10px Arial; color: #666; margin: 3px 0 20px 0;'> *- Hall of Famer</p>


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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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