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Hockey Analytics

Ovechkin: Power Play Passing

by Gus Katsaros
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Maybe shadowing Alex Ovechkin on the power play isn’t the right way to go. The first name that pops up as Alex Ovechkin’s playmaker at 5v4 is, who?

 

Nicklas Backstrom?

 

Newcomer T.J. Oshie?

 

Super enthusiastic Evgeny Kuznetsov?

 

All excellent options, however, Ovechkin’s lethal one timer starts at the top of the zone, not across the ice.

 

For ‘Ovi’, most primary passes for a shot on goal at 5v4 originate from John Carlson at the point. The way to Ovechkin in his office for one-timers is dependent on Carlson feeds.

 

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This discovery originated from analyzing Ryan Stimson’s passing project as the data source, I started looking for some possible combination to add another layer to the shot quality debate.

 

Shot quality on the individual level is as controversial a subject. This post began as a research project into multiple player shot quality, the idea loosely based on the research conducted by Steven Valliquette and Chris Boyle, citing an event prior to a shot on goal influencing goals scored.

 

I don’t know what the impact is as of now, but I thought we could look at the NHL’s best goal scorer for some semblance of understanding. Trackers accumulated passes for the first 22 Capitals games. Ovechkin scored twice on the power play in those 22 games.

 

Players all have at least one elite skill in today’s NHL. They couldn’t compete otherwise, however, there has to be other skills that support their main skill. Ovechkin not only packs a killer shot, his peripheral skills support his goal scoring. Solid skating, speed, physicality and compete bar none have resulted in 500 goals very quick.

 

The greatest contributor to Ovechkin’s 5v4 lethal one-timers, is Carlson. According to the data, Carlson contributed nine one-timer shots for Ovi, four slap shots and three wristers when the pass originated from the center of the offensive zone. When passing from the right side, Carlson set up the one-timer once and a slap shot.

 

Let’s narrow this down starting with the primary passes where Ovechkin is the shooter. This first table outlines Ovechkin’s game situation in the first column, with the accompanying shot type.

 

Shot types are defined by the Passing Project as indicated below:

 

Type of shot:

One-Timer, "o"

Slap Shot, "s"

Wrist/Snap Shot, "w"

Back hand, "b"

Wraparound, "a"

Tip, "t"

Rebound "r"

 

Across the top are the players listed with primary passes where Ovechkin is the recipient and a shot on goal generated. Situations are broken down in the first column.

 

Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov were the leading forwards providing primary passes to the Russian, the majority coming at 5v5 even strength.

 

Carlson, with 24 primary passes has the lead among defensemen, but only one pass at 5v5, the rest coming at 5v4 (20), 5v3 (1) and once with the extra attacker 6v5.

 

SOG

2

9

19

27

74

77

88

90

92

 

Niskanen

Orlov

Backstrom

Alzner

Carlson

Oshie

Schmidt

Johansson

Kuznetsov

Ovechkin

2

2

19

1

24

17

1

3

19

5v5

1

2

14

1

1

12

1

1

12

backhand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

1-Timer

 

 

1

 

 

1

 

 

4

Slap

 

1

 

 

1

1

 

 

2

tip

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrist/Snap

1

1

12

1

 

10

1

1

5

5v4

1

 

5

 

20

5

 

1

5

backhand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

1-Timer

 

 

 

 

11

1

 

 

2

Slap

 

 

4

 

5

2

 

 

 

Wrist/Snap

1

 

1

 

4

2

 

1

2

5v3

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

1

1-Timer

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

1

6v5

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

1

1

1-Timer

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

tip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

Wrist/Snap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We can take it to the shot attempts level prior to digging down deeper into the data. Counting primary passes that ended up as shot attempts, not just shot on goal, the data looks like this:

 

SHOT ATTEMPTS

2

9

14

19

27

74

77

88

90

92

 

Niskanen

Orlov

Williams

Backstrom

Alzner

Carlson

Oshie

Schmidt

Johansson

Kuznetsov

Ovechkin

3

3

2

33

4

44

26

1

6

36

5v5

1

3

1

24

3

2

20

1

3

25

backhand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

1-Timer

 

 

 

4

 

 

2

 

 

6

Slap

 

1

 

 

1

1

3

 

1

4

tip

 

 

 

1

1

 

 

 

 

 

Wrist/Snap

1

2

1

19

1

1

15

1

2

14

5v4

1

 

1

8

 

37

6

 

2

8

backhand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

1-Timer

 

 

1

1

 

26

1

 

 

4

Slap

 

 

 

5

 

7

2

 

 

1

Wrist/Snap

1

 

 

2

 

4

3

 

2

2

4v4

 

 

 

1

1

 

 

 

 

 

Wrist/Snap

 

 

 

1

1

 

 

 

 

 

5v3

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

2

1-Timer

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

2

6v5

1

 

 

 

 

3

 

 

1

1

1-Timer

1

 

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

 

tip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

Wrist/Snap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

At 5v5, forwards clearly lead the way getting Ovechkin the puck, but at 5v4, the puck travels through John Carlson before ending up on Ovechkin’s stick. Most of Carlson’s passes end up as lethal one-timers, while other 5v4 primary passes among the two best forwards (Oshie, Backstrom) end up as shots, but not one-timers.

 

How many actualize as scoring chances? We can explore that. The data is below, isolating shots on goal that were deemed scoring chances.

 

SC SOG

2

9

19

27

74

77

88

90

92

 

Niskanen

Orlov

Backstrom

Alzner

Carlson

Oshie

Schmidt

Johansson

Kuznetsov

Ovechkin

1

1

11

1

6

8

1

1

10

5v5

1

1

7

1

 

4

1

1

6

backhand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

1-Timer

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

3

Slap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

tip

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrist/Snap

1

1

6

1

 

3

1

1

1

5v4

 

 

4

 

4

4

 

 

2

backhand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

1-Timer

 

 

 

 

3

1

 

 

1

Slap

 

 

3

 

1

1

 

 

 

Wrist/Snap

 

 

1

 

 

2

 

 

 

5v3

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

1

1-Timer

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

1

6v5

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

1

1-Timer

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

tip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Scoring chances without a shot on goal (missed or blocked) are below.

 

sc non-sog

Williams

Backstrom

Alzner

Carlson

Oshie

Kuznetsov

 

14

19

27

74

77

92

Ovechkin

2

6

1

3

3

6

5v5

1

5

1

 

3

4

1-Timer

 

1

 

 

1

1

Slap

 

 

 

 

1

 

tip

 

 

1

 

 

 

Wrist/Snap

1

4

 

 

1

3

5v4

1

 

 

3

 

2

1-Timer

1

 

 

3

 

1

Slap

 

 

 

 

 

1

4v4

 

1

 

 

 

 

Wrist/Snap

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The end result of course is for goals. Between all the primary passers, there aren’t a lot of goals to go around. Backstrom and Kuznetsov have generated two goals each for Ovechkin off a 5v5 pass, while all the shot attempts and shots on goal haven’t materialized on the score sheet at 5v4. That honor falls onto the forwards.

 

Goals

19

74

88

90

92

 

Backstrom

Carlson

Schmidt

Johansson

Kuznetsov

Ovechkin

3

1

1

 

3

5v5

2

 

1

 

2

1-Timer

 

 

 

 

1

Wrist/Snap

2

 

1

 

1

5v4

1

 

 

 

1

backhand

 

 

 

 

1

Wrist/Snap

1

 

 

 

 

6v5

 

1

 

 

 

1-Timer

 

1

 

 

 

 

Zone Attribution

 

A great added feature of the newest batch of passing data is zone attribution to where the pass originated. This feature allows us to visualize both the pass preceding the primary pass and the end result shot attempt, or on goal.

 

Isolating only power play (5v4) we can get a sense of what was happening with the Washington man-advantage, progressing from shot attempts, to shots on goal, to scoring chances and ultimately goals.

 

Stimson described the designations for zones as follows:

 

O, N, or D indicates the pass originating zone

"of," "nf," and "df," are if the A1/A2/A3 passer won the faceoff

"orr" is for passes that cross the Royal Road.

"op" is for passes back to the point

"oel" is for passes from behind the end line.

Passes including multiple events, (i.e. a pass from below the end line back to the point or a faceoff won back to the point), marked in alphabetical order: "oelp" or "ofp."

Last letter is lane in which the pass originated: Left, Right, or Center ("l", "r", "c").

 

For our purposes, we are really only concerned with the plays in the offensive zone, that is, only values in the first columns that begin with the letter ‘o’ (and accompanying shot type). Let’s start with shot attempts:

 

Shot Attempts

Niskanen

Williams

Backstrom

Carlson

Oshie

Johansson

Kuznetsov

5v4

1

1

8

37

6

2

8

dc

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

Wrist/Snap

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

nc

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrist/Snap

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

OC

 

1

 

28

1

 

 

1-Timer

 

1

 

20

 

 

 

Slap

 

 

 

5

 

 

 

Wrist/Snap

 

 

 

3

1

 

 

oelrrc

 

 

1

 

 

1

2

backhand

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

Slap

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

Wrist/Snap

 

 

1

 

 

1

 

of

 

 

2

 

 

 

2

1-Timer

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

Slap

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

Wrist/Snap

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

ol

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

Slap

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

opl

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

Wrist/Snap

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

opr

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

Slap

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

OR

 

 

2

7

 

1

1

1-Timer

 

 

1

5

 

 

 

Slap

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

Wrist/Snap

 

 

1

 

 

1

1

ORRC

 

 

1

1

2

 

 

1-Timer

 

 

 

1

1

 

 

Slap

 

 

1

 

1

 

 

orrr

 

 

1

 

1

 

3

1-Timer

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

Slap

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

Wrist/Snap

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And shots on goal.

 

Shots on Goal

Niskanen

Backstrom

Carlson

Oshie

Johansson

Kuznetsov

5v4

1

5

20

5

1

5

dc

 

 

1

 

 

 

Wrist/Snap

 

 

1

 

 

 

nc

1

 

 

 

 

 

Wrist/Snap

1

 

 

 

 

 

OC

 

 

16

1

 

 

1-Timer

 

 

9

 

 

 

Slap

 

 

4

 

 

 

Wrist/Snap

 

 

3

1

 

 

oelrrc

 

1

 

 

1

1

backhand

 

 

 

 

 

1

Wrist/Snap

 

1

 

 

1

 

of

 

1

 

 

 

1

Slap

 

1

 

 

 

 

Wrist/Snap

 

 

 

 

 

1

ol

 

 

 

1

 

 

Slap

 

 

 

1

 

 

opr

 

1

 

 

 

 

Slap

 

1

 

 

 

 

OR

 

 

2

 

 

1

1-Timer

 

 

1

 

 

 

Slap

 

 

1

 

 

 

Wrist/Snap

 

 

 

 

 

1

ORRC

 

1

1

2

 

 

1-Timer

 

 

1

1

 

 

Slap

 

1

 

1

 

 

orrr

 

1

 

1

 

2

1-Timer

 

 

 

 

 

2

Slap

 

1

 

 

 

 

Wrist/Snap

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

The tables above describe the passers (top row) for Ovechkin. John Carlson is the front runner at 5v4 by a long shot. Carlson is the main setup man for Ovi to unleash a one-timer – likely by design – with passes originating from other sources requiring a wind up, or stopping the puck to unleash a shot attempt.

 

Shots that were considered scoring chances are listed on the table on the right.

 

 

sc shot attempts

Williams

Backstrom

Carlson

Oshie

Kuznetsov

SC SOG

Backstrom

Carlson

Oshie

Kuznetsov

5v4

1

4

7

4

4

5v4

4

4

4

2

OC

1

 

5

1

 

OC

 

3

1

 

1-Timer

1

 

4

 

 

1-Timer

 

2

 

 

Slap

 

 

1

 

 

Slap

 

1

 

 

Wrist/Snap

 

 

 

1

 

Wrist/Snap

 

 

1

 

oelrrc

 

1

 

 

2

oelrrc

1

 

 

1

backhand

 

 

 

 

1

backhand

 

 

 

1

Slap

 

 

 

 

1

Wrist/Snap

1

 

 

 

Wrist/Snap

 

1

 

 

 

opr

1

 

 

 

opr

 

1

 

 

 

Slap

1

 

 

 

Slap

 

1

 

 

 

ORRC

1

1

2

 

OR

 

 

1

 

 

1-Timer

 

1

1

 

1-Timer

 

 

1

 

 

Slap

1

 

1

 

ORRC

 

1

1

2

 

orrr

1

 

1

1

1-Timer

 

 

1

1

 

1-Timer

 

 

 

1

Slap

 

1

 

1

 

Slap

1

 

 

 

orrr

 

1

 

1

2

Wrist/Snap

 

 

1

 

1-Timer

 

 

 

 

2

         

Slap

 

1

 

 

 

         

Wrist/Snap

 

 

 

1

 

         

 

 

Ovechkin scored twice in the first 22 games on 45 shots on goal (4.4% shooting percentage) for all power play situations. There are two essential takeaways here; two Royal Road feeds to Ovechkin ended up in the net, both passes from forwards. Neither were one-timers.

 

From a strategical perspective, maybe teams shouldn’t be shadowing Ovechkin, but rather taking away the passing lane from Carlson at the top of the offensive zone in the 1-3-1. Teams using a triangle plus one formation could float the player in the middle a little higher in the middle to get a stick in between the passing lane and disrupt that flow entirely – forcing a different formation or undesired movement on the Capitals part as a unit.

 

Goals

Backstrom

Kuznetsov

5v4

1

1

oelrrc

1

1

backhand

 

1

Wrist/Snap

1

 

 

I haven’t gone through video, the data here points to Ovechkin’s one-timer being tied to feeds from the center at the top of the zone. I diagramed the play to look like below, with an active zone on the one side, while weak side lurks Ovechkin.

 

View post on imgur.com

 

Another interesting piece of data revealed that of the 37 shot attempts that Carlson fed Ovechkin, only one shot ended up as a rebound. Of the 63 total shot attempts, only two rebounds. The shot is either well placed, or wide off the mark, very few pucks end up as gifts for players up front.

 

It begs the question, how effective is it to have a man in front of the net if Ovechkin is launching pinpoint lasers, or off the net that it requires recovering by teammates before another opportunity can be attained.

 

He’s scored seven in the following 20 games on 40 shots on goal (17.5%). Stimson’s crew will be releasing another data set very soon. It will be interesting to see what has occurred since the last data release.

 

Stay tuned.

Gus Katsaros
Gus Katsaros is the Pro Scouting Coordinator with McKeen’s Hockey, publishers of industry leading scouting and fantasy guide, the McKeen’s Annual Hockey Pool Yearbook. He also contributes to popular blog MapleLeafsHotStove.com ... he can be followed on Twitter @KatsHockey