Sid vs. Ovi, v. 2013

With 4 goals on 6 shots last night to lead Washington to a 6-5 come-from-behind shootout win over Tampa Bay, Alex Ovechkin now leads the NHL in goals (26), power-play goals (11), and shots (156) through 29 games. His Caps are second in the Metropolitan Division, sixth overall in the East, fifth in goal differential, and tied for first in goals with Pittsburgh (with a game in hand). Hart Trophy frontrunner, right?

Not exactly. Sidney Crosby, who bizarrely has played more games than Ovechkin so far (not to mention 10 more than he did the entire 2011-2012 season and only four fewer than last season), leads the NHL in total points at 43. Crosby also leads all NHL forwards in ice time per game at 22:23, 44th overall (he’s the first non-defenseman on the list); Ovechkin is 78th overall at 21:13, still excellent for a forward, but behind Ryan Kesler, both Sedins, Anze Kopitar, and Claude Giroux.

It’s the advanced stats though that make the difference between Crosby and Ovechkin even more dramatic. Crosby beats Ovechkin, at times overwhelmingly, in Corsi (shot differential) 12.88 to 5.9 and Relative Corsi (shot differential relative to the rest of his team) 14.8 to 10 against far tougher opposition (Corsi Quality of Competition of -0.064 to -1.961 and Relative Corsi Quality of Competition of 1.326 to 0.376), with a far worse zone start (48.4% offensive zone starts to 60.7% for Ovechkin).

Ovechkin is having a terrific year– although his shooting percentage (a career-high 16.7%; his previous high was 13.6% in 2009-2010) will most likely drop off, he’s shooting the puck more than he has since 2008-2009, which is encouraging, and Adam Oates appears to be using him well (compare his offensive zone starts with Henrik Sedin at 60.5% and Daniel Sedin at 60.8%– in the words of Low, that’s how you sing Amazing Grace)– but unfortunately for Caps (and possibly Flyers) fans, he’s no Sidney Crosby.


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