What’s up with Ovechkin’s player usage chart?

Alex Ovechkin is the only guy in the world who could lead the NHL in goals and have people say he had a “tough year” or be “slipping.” If only we could all have such a burden of being so unbelievably great at something that when you don’t do everything perfect, you are hammered.

Not that the lashings Ov8 took were unfounded. His defensive play can be brutal at times and he has not been a dynamic puck possession player for years. He has simply been the most productive power play scorer on the planet, and not much else.

But there may be somethin’ happenin’ here. Or (small sample alert!) maybe not. But maybe there is. Ovechkin’s possession numbers vs. usage are very intriguing in his first 11 games vs. his past four seasons. And looking at his common linemates, it isn’t anybody much different from the past.

This season, he is still receiving a high number of offensive zone starts, but is matching up against harder competition than he has in years and (darker blue = better Rel Fenwick) seems to be succeeding more than he has the past four years.

The bubble way up top is this season. (Click to enlarge, via War-on-ice)

ov8 2

Could this be due to schedule? Matchups? Fresh legs? Lots of factors. But when there’s a new coach in town – and it’s Alex Ovechkin – you have to ask if he’s “back.” However, if this kept up, it would be more than “back.”

And here we were thinking the whole how-will-Trotz-reach-Ovie thing was just narrative. It could be that Trotz is reaching everyone, since the Capitals are fourth in the NHL in Fenwick Close. That seems unfathomable compared to where they were last year in 24th.

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