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Will Ovechkin break Bondra’s goal record for a shortened season?

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS | Since he entered the NHL as the first pick overall after the lockout of 2005-06, Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has put together some dazzling goals and overall eye-popping numbers. The 26-year-old set a high standard for himself after scoring more than 50 goals in three of his first four seasons, including a 65-goal campaign in 2007-08. But can he break Peter Bondra’s mark of 34 goals set during the last 48-game shortened season of 1994-95?

To do so, Ovechkin must average a goal every 1.3 games to break Bondra’s mark. Here’s the list of Ovechkin’s career goals per game against each team he and the Capitals will face in 2013:

Opponent Games Goal every x games, career
Carolina Hurricanes 5 2.2
Winnipeg Jets 5 1.4
Florida Panthers 4 1.8
Tampa Bay Lightning 4 1.7
Boston Bruins 3 2.3
Buffalo Sabres 3 1.6
Montreal Canadiens 3 1.9
New Jersey Devils 3 2.6
New York Islanders 3 1.4
New York Rangers 3 1.9
Ottawa Senators 3 1.4
Philadelphia Flyers 3 1.1
Pittsburgh Penguins 3 1.4
Toronto Maple Leafs 3 1.2
Career average 48 1.6


Consistency will play a huge role in his quest, and it is much easier to get hot and stay hot during a shortened season than it is over a full 82-game campaign. However, Ovechkin hasn’t come close to a 30-goal pace over 48 games since 2009-10. The best he was able to muster in 2010-11 was a 20-goal pace (twice), and in 2011-12, he hit a 28-goal pace five times over the course of the season. Granted, a shift to a more defensive-oriented system under Bruce Boudreau and even moreso Dale Hunter played some role, but it remains to be seen if Adam Oates’ system can return Ovechkin to the lofty heights of a few seasons ago.

(Toni L. Sandys/Washington Post.)
(Toni L. Sandys/Washington Post.)

Assuming Oates and his system can help put some great back into No. 8, special teams will play a huge role in any run for the record.

During the 1994-95 season, Bondra scored 12 power-play goals when teams were averaging 4.4 power-play opportunities per game. Ovechkin tallied 13 last season with Washington drawing just shy of three power plays per game in a league where the average sits at 3.3. However, when Bondra set the mark he also tallied six shorthanded goals (a franchise record shared with Mike Gartner). Ovechkin, who saw a total of two minutes on the penalty kill all season, won’t have that same luxury. For Ovi, the scoring will need to come either at even-strength or on the power play.

I’m not saying it’s impossible, but Ovechkin’s goal-scoring rate has plummeted these past few years:

2005-06: one goal every 1.6 games
2006-07: one goal every 1.8 games
2007-08: one goal every 1.3 games
2008-09: one goal every 1.4 games
2009-10: one goal every 1.4 games
2010-11: one goal every 2.4 games
2011-12: one goal every 2.0 games

Ovechkin hasn’t come close to the pace he would need to break Bondra’s record since the 2009-10 season. Does he have another big goal-scoring season in him, that season where everything goes right for him and his linemates around him? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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