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If someone scored, just how likely was it Ovechkin?

Posted By Ryan Cleaver On Mar 4 2010 @ 9:38 pm In Washington Capitals | 7 Comments

Alexander Ovechkin is a statistical marvel unmatched in sports.  My personal favorite stat of his is how he has more double digit shot games during his career than the next four players combined [1] over that span.  At his current pace he’d pass Gretzky for the all time lead in goals at the age of 36, one year after his current contract expires.

I’ve come up with a way to compare scoring over their careers to expand on how Mirtle looked at their career seasons [2].  If you take the average number of goals scored by both teams in a game during a given year and multiply it by the number of games played by a particular player, you get the number of goals scored in games that player played if he played for an average team.

(Average NHL scoring) x (games played) = average number of goals scored in games played per season

If you do that for every season in that player’s career, you get the number of goals scored in games that player’s career if he played for an average team.

{∑ each season over players career [(Average NHL scoring) x (games played)]} = average number of goals scored in career games played

If you divide the number of career goals scored by that player by the average goals in the games in which he played, you get how likely it is that a goal in an average game was scored by that player.

Career goals / {∑ each season over players career [(Average NHL scoring) x (games played)]} = average goal percentage

By this measurement Ovechkin scored 11.8% of the goals in the games in which he participated, a staggering number.  Even among the rarefied air of the 500 goal club, Ovechkin separates himself.

Average goal %
Alexander Ovechkin 0.118359
Mario Lemieux 0.110424
Mike Bossy 0.101494
Maurice Richard 0.097283
Bobby Hull 0.096898
Brett Hull 0.094198
Teemu Selanne 0.08842
Phil Esposito 0.087697
Wayne Gretzky 0.085766
Jaromir Jagr 0.085652
Gordie Howe 0.079536
Jean Beliveau 0.079103
Peter Bondra 0.078602
Keith Tkachuk 0.077689
Frank Mahovlich 0.075636
Marcel Dionne 0.075591
Luc Robitaille 0.074397
Joe Sakic 0.07431
Joe Nieuwendyk 0.072018
Mats Sundin 0.070877
Brendan Shanahan 0.070475
Guy Lafleur 0.070535
Steve Yzerman 0.069848
Dino Ciccarelli 0.069475
Mike Modano 0.064105
Mike Gartner 0.069309
Michel Goulet 0.06763
Jari Kurri 0.067354
Joe Mullen 0.065366
Pierre Turgeon 0.063723
Stan Mikita 0.062764
Jeremy Roenick 0.062381
Lanny McDonald 0.061901
Gilbert Perreault 0.060824
Dale Hawerchuk 0.060113
Mark Recchi 0.059942
Dave Andreychuk 0.059915
John Bucyk 0.059664
Mark Messier 0.059073
Bryan Trottier 0.056055
Pat Verbeek 0.055063
Ron Francis 0.048337

You’d expect Mike Bossy to rank highly in this statistic, but Mario Lemieux is actually the only legend in Ovechkin’s stratosphere.  Lemieux is also the only center in the top 6 of this statistic among the 500 goal club, making his dominance all the more impressive.  As badly as he beat the Caps’ brains in, looking at Lemieux’s GP column I can’t help but wish he could have played 80 a few times.

I also used the average goal percentage to standardize the 500 goal club across eras.  If you multiply a player’s average goal percentage by the number of games played, and multiply that by the average goals scored by both teams in a game during a given year, you get the goals that player would have scored had he played his career in an era with that level of scoring.

(Average goal percentage) x (career games played) x (average NHL scoring) = predicted career scoring for a given year

For these rankings I used 5.65 goals per game, the average for the current season.

All time rank Adjusted total
Gordie Howe 2 794.1
Wayne Gretzky 1 720.6
Brett Hull 3 675.4
Phil Esposito 5 635.2
Jaromir Jagr 12 616
Brendan Shanahan 11 606.8
Luc Robitaille 10 601.5
Steve Yzerman 8 597.5
Mark Messier 7 586.1
Teemu Selanne 18 584
Bobby Hull 15 582
Joe Sakic 14 578.6
Marcel Dionne 4 575.7
Mario Lemieux 9 570.9
Mike Gartner 6 560.8
Dave Andreychuk 13 554.8
Mats Sundin 20 539
Maurice Richard 28 537.6
Mark Recchi 23 524.9
Mike Modano 24 524.1
Keith Tkachuk 30 521.9
John Bucyk 24 519.1
Joe Nieuwendyk 20 511.5
Frank Mahovlich 31 504.7
Jean Beliveau 38 502.8
Stan Mikita 29 494.3
Dino Ciccarelli 16 483.6
Jeremy Roenick 36 480.4
Peter Bondra 39 480.1
Jari Kurri 17 476.1
Ron Francis 26 472.7
Pierre Turgeon 35 465.9
Guy Lafleur 22 448.7
Pat Verbeek 33 443
Mike Bossy 19 431.2
Michel Goulet 27 416.1
Gilbert Perreault 37 409.3
Bryan Trottier 32 405.1
Dale Hawerchuk 34 403.5
Joe Mullen 40 392.2
Lanny McDonald 41 388.6

The guys who make the biggest leaps are snipers who played the bulk of their careers in the 50s or mid 90s to present – Jean Beliveau moves up 13 spots, Richard and Bondra ten, Selanne, Roenick, and Tkachuk eight.  The biggest drops belong to the guys who played the bulk of their careers in the 80s – Bossy moves down 16 spots, Kurri and Dionne 13, Ciccarelli and Lafleur 11.

Here’s [3] the spreadsheet I used for crunching the numbers, and here’s [4] the source of the average goals per game for the last 75 seasons.  For each player the left column is games played and the right column goals scored; below that the left column is the average number of goals scored in games played per season, the right predicted career scoring for a given year.  These statistics were compiled during the Olympic break.

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URLs in this post:

[1] next four players combined: http://hfboards.com/showpost.php?p=13545951&postcount=30

[2] Mirtle looked at their career seasons: http://mirtle.blogspot.com/2008/02/ovechkin-08-one-of-greatest-goal.html

[3] Here’s: https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AjowfAAvdMHbdFMyY09nMzJBWGlIQVNOOW9oWWNCRWc&hl=en

[4] here’s: http://www.dropyourgloves.com/Stat/LeagueGoals.aspx

[5] Subscribe to author's RSS feed: http://www.prosportsblogging.com/author/cleaver/feed/

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