Skip to content

Ovechkin thinks very little of plus/minus

Aug 7, 2014, 9:46 PM EDT

Alex Ovechkin Getty Images

Alex Ovechkin won the Rocket Richard Trophy for the fourth time last season with 51 goals, but perhaps the statistic that sticks out most from his 2013-14 campaign is his minus-35 rating.

It was the worst in Washington by 14 points and third from the bottom in 2013-14. He also joined Toronto’s Phil Kessel as the only members of the top-10 goal scoring list to finish with a negative plus/minus rating.

He used that as ammunition when he was recently asked how he felt by the end of last season.

“I am very happy that I didn’t become the worst in the plus/minus category,” Ovechkin told SovSport in an interview translated by Puck Daddy. “I had minus-35. Steve Ott and Alex Edler jumped ahead of me. Can you imagine scoring 51 goals and getting minus-40? I would have made history!”

The interviewer brought up Sergei Gonchar‘s past criticism about the use of plus/minus and Ovechkin took that opportunity to expand on the point.

“With the help of the plus/minus contracts can be obtained,” the 28-year-old forward said. “Once our defenseman Jeff Schultz was plus-50. He was plus-5 in the last game. And he signed a contract for four years averaging $2.75 million [Ovechkin makes big eyes]. And then his contract was bought out, and he signed for only $700,000 a year. Jeff is a good guy. But these plus/minus stats say very little about a player himself or the game as a whole.”

While plus/minus might not always be a great reflection of how a player performed, it is fair to say that the Capitals as a team had defensive issues last season. They hope some of that will be addressed by allowing goaltender Braden Holtby to play a style that he’s more comfortable with, the additions of defensemen Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik, and bringing in Barry Trotz to serve as the team’s head coach.

That last change will impact Ovechkin, but for now he’s taking a wait-and-see approach. He acknowledged it’s difficult to change, but he’s been through this several times over the last few years, so he knows what to expect.

  1. areaman714 - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:01 PM

    . . . As a result . . . He thinks very little of back-checking either . . .

  2. bmoreredfury311 - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    Great… way to feed the hate machine PHT

  3. capsnbohs23 - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:12 PM

    this should be a fun comment section for the next 24 hours, full of things we have never heard before

    • AlexOvechkinMinus35 - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:47 PM

      perhaps you could elaborate

      • jpelle82 - Aug 8, 2014 at 4:32 PM

        oh look fivetozeroingameseven got a new handle

  4. billiam55 - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:14 PM

    assuming tmrw is washingtion capitals day on PHT?

    • patthehockeyfan - Aug 8, 2014 at 7:17 AM

      Nope. Friday is Dallas Stars’ Day. Caps’ Day isn’t until Monday, August 18th.

  5. 19to77 - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:20 PM

    Somewhere, Jeff Schultz feels sad.

  6. lowenni - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:21 PM

    Agh, I agree with him…but he’s just setting himself up for criticism. Most of hockey now views plus/minus as a flawed stat, and what he says about Jeff Schultz, a slow, soft depth defenseman at best being a plus-50 is totally true and an accurate analysis. But he’s just feeding the trolls here, as areman714 demonstrates. Also want to point to this article for people who blame Ovechkin for the Caps defensive woes–since apparently he should be a Selke-level forward, defenseman, and why not a goalie and a coach for the Caps as well:

    • areaman714 - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:29 PM

      It isn’t trolling when you have stuff like this in your arsenal . . .

      • areaman714 - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:32 PM

        Watch number 8 glide ever-so-effortlessly in front of the benches . . . moving at a feverish clip to thwart the Rangers attempt at putting the puck in the back of the net . . .

      • AlexOvechkinMinus35 - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:42 PM

        I’m not sure what you’re driving at here

      • hystoracle - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:56 AM

        “Film doesn’t lie.” Quoting every pro athlete and coach ever.

      • billiam55 - Aug 8, 2014 at 1:21 PM

        what a beautiful goal though.

  7. pitpenguinsrulez - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:32 PM

    Just like playing “defense” he thinks very little of it.

  8. flyboystransport - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:49 PM

    Ok so do the math….you scored 79 points and we’re a minus 35 so that means the opposition scored at least 114 times while you were on the ice and you scored 51 but that’s not a big deal? That means you are a major part as to why your team loses. I like ovechkin but let’s get real

    • dipthatchip - Aug 7, 2014 at 11:16 PM

      goals scored on the powerplay (a bunch of his were) do not factor into +/- rating. The entire team sucked $&@% 5v5, so that also contributes to this stat not being fair. There were not 114 Gail’s scored against the Caps with AO on the ice

      • dipthatchip - Aug 7, 2014 at 11:18 PM

        goals or Gail’s , take your pick

      • flyboystransport - Aug 8, 2014 at 9:51 AM

        Short handed goals count against

  9. titansbro - Aug 7, 2014 at 11:01 PM

    I’d think very little of it too if I was minus infinity.

  10. icelovinbrotha215 - Aug 7, 2014 at 11:11 PM

    +/- is somewhat abused but doesn’t mean that Ovi can’t show a LITTLE more effort at times haha. I do think that people make too big of deal about it. As long as he keeps scoring, ya know?

  11. thailer35 - Aug 7, 2014 at 11:44 PM

    He also had 28 assists. So 79 points. Aggressively assuming half of those were on the man advantage he would have earned 39 in the plus column. Again, assuming that he wasn’t on the ice during a 5v5 in which the capitals scored a goal that was not his or one that he assisted on, he would have had 74 against. That’s already more than half way to 114 making some pretty bold assumptions. In all likelihood, there were at least 114 goals scored against the capitals while Ovi was on the ice.

  12. shaundre93 - Aug 8, 2014 at 1:05 AM

    I don’t get why people totally dismiss +/- now. Yes, it is a flawed stat, but when used in context, it can be used as another piece of the puzzle. Such as when you are -14 worse than the next player on your own team. That’s not good. No one expects ovi to be a selke caliber forward. Just a little bit of effort in the d zone would make all the difference in the world though

    • paulerhythm - Aug 8, 2014 at 8:14 AM

      Yeah, it is alittle flawed but, it is an indicator to what happens when you’re on the ice. The question begs, when you’re on the ice, do you score or do you allow a score? That’s the real barometer of the plus/minus. Sure, Ovi scored 51 goals BUT he allowed 35 goals when he’s on the ice! Sounds to me like he has a defensive deficiency and really needs to be corrected.

  13. endusersolutions2013 - Aug 8, 2014 at 1:37 AM

    One way I use it o assess teams when you have at least 20 games played is what I call +/- depth. The number of guys who’ve played more than a few gameswho have a positive +/-.

    When the Hawks won the cup last, they lead the league in +/- depth.

  14. dutchman1350 - Aug 8, 2014 at 6:24 AM

    +\- is a flawed stat, however it is very telling when players have a significant minus, such as Ovi.

  15. officialgame - Aug 8, 2014 at 7:37 AM

    Between him an Putin I am starting to dislike Russians again.

  16. capsfan14 - Aug 8, 2014 at 7:41 AM

    Let me speak for Joey and Blomfeld.

    Joey: “Ovechkin is a the worst player in the NHL. Who cares if he finished first in scoring last year? I’m just gonna repeat myself over and over and continue to be oblivious to the skills and assets this guy brings to a team. Am I right blomdfeld?”

    Blomdfeld: “Thats right joey. I’m an idiot.”

    • govtminion - Aug 8, 2014 at 8:04 AM

      The best part is that their discussion is a Tyler Durden-style thing where it’s just one sad-sack living in mom’s basement having this discussion with himself. Preferably while punching himself Durden-style as well.

    • patthehockeyfan - Aug 8, 2014 at 8:21 AM

      First of all, capsfan14, I could just smack you for bringing up their names. Generally, they suspect that they’re missed, and that is an invitation for them to post. Whenever I don’t see their comments for a while (especially Blomfeld’s), I keep my fingers crossed that the absence continues. And, I keep quiet.

      Secondly, one or the both of them (or the two of one?) would call Ovi a parasite and the worst player in the world for all time. It gets really tiring to read their repetition ad nauseam. The needle is stuck on their record (his record?). Time to pull the plug.

      Finally, though I’m a Kings’ fan (don’t kill me!), I live in Baltimore and follow the Caps fairly closely. I didn’t dislike Ovechkin, and in fact, I admired his scoring skills. Blomfeld’s and joey’s continual whining about him has made me an Ovechkin fan.

  17. Eutaw's Finest - Aug 8, 2014 at 8:27 AM

    Let’s not forget that nearly the entire Capitals team was on the wrong side of +/- last year. Ovi was the anomaly based on TOI and the absolutely horrific pairings provided by Oates. Not dismissing his numbers altogether but that can’t be ignored. Team sucked. Line mate sucked. Coaching sucked.

    • girouxsalem89 - Aug 8, 2014 at 9:01 AM

      Ovie was something like -14 more than any of his teammates…. and he lead the team in scoring.

      That doesn’t add up in any logical sense other than he doesn’t play defense… which we already knew.

  18. icrew29 - Aug 8, 2014 at 9:05 AM

    I thought when you played Hockey that when you went one way you were on offense and when you went the other way you were on defense. Why is it that this guy only has to play only going one way and everyone else is expected to play both ends of the ice? I think the goalie is the only one who is suppose to do that.

  19. leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Aug 8, 2014 at 9:20 AM


  20. flyboystransport - Aug 8, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    How is +/- not an accurate stat? Lindstrom won the Norris trophy because he had great +/- numbers and was on the ice more than anyone else. It is the most important stat in hockey.

  21. kotteintheslot - Aug 8, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    People quickly forget this guy had a plus 45 in 2009-2010. I am not sitting here and saying Ovechkin is great defensively, because he is not, but please stop over-analyzing this stat just because you hate Ovechkin. He needs work defensively, of course, but that still does not take away from he fact that he has five 50 goal seasons, and already in nine seasons over 400 goals. People on here just for some reason have an obsession with hating on Ovechkin, who oh by the way, no matter how much his haters do not want to admit it, is the best goal scorer of THIS generation.

    • patthehockeyfan - Aug 8, 2014 at 10:40 AM

      And, his career +/- is +47. That’s not a typo. It’s PLUS 47.

      • har21441 - Aug 8, 2014 at 12:27 PM

        oof….really down hill lately.

      • patthehockeyfan - Aug 8, 2014 at 12:58 PM

        I’d say up and down, har21441; but, mostly up.

        2005-06 ….. +2
        2006-07 ….. -19
        2007-08 …..+28
        2008-09 ….. +8
        2009-10 ….. +45
        2010-11 ….. +24
        2011-12 ….. -8
        2012-13 ….. +2
        2013-14 ….. -35

    • bmoreredfury311 - Aug 8, 2014 at 1:59 PM

      Its because the media willnt let it die. And people hear what want to hear. You can show them facts but that willnt change their uninformed opinion. Its pointless to even try to explain it to them. The team as a whole sucked, but lets ignore that and just keep bashing him.

      • patthehockeyfan - Aug 8, 2014 at 2:16 PM

        It’s also PHT’s way of getting page hits. Post a story about the Caps (like the Laich one the other day) and people will pile on to bash Ovi. Ditto for any article about Barry Trotz. Post a story with Ovechkin’s name in the headline, the number of page hits doubles. Post his photo beneath the headline, the number page hits and comments go through the roof.

        I can’t think of another NHL player who generates so much acrimony. (I’ll be sorry I wrote this because I’m a Kings’ fan; but, maybe Dustin Brown. He’s always a hot-button issue.)

      • bmoreredfury311 - Aug 8, 2014 at 8:11 PM

        You are a 100% correct. And I don’t help by posting on it, but sadly I do.
        I would say you could put Crosby in there as well for generating hits. But the trolls really love to hate on Ovi’s +/-

    • paulerhythm - Aug 8, 2014 at 10:51 PM

      Goal scoring is great but, it’s defense that wins you the Cup. A good defense will always prevail over good offense, not just hockey, in all team sports!

  22. blue21c - Aug 8, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    Ovie was -5 in a game in Columbus last season

  23. nyrnashty - Aug 8, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    I think most hockey players agree that this stat is dumb and doesn’t say much. The only people that I’ve ever heard talk about it and actually think it’s something to look at are the people who don’t play. If I score 50 goals I don’t care what my +/- says to tell you the truth. Backstrom only had 18 goals last year and who else did Ovechkin play with? Can’t imagine that guy lit up the lamp either! Ovechkins plus minus might be better if he was around better people, plus he’s a winger there’s only so much he can do on D.

    • skr213 - Aug 8, 2014 at 5:09 PM

      “he’s a winger there’s only so much he can do on D.” And yet earlier in your post you had the nerve to talk about how the only people who pay attention to +/- “are the people who don’t play.” If you think wingers “can only do so much on D” then there is NO WAY you actually play the game. NO WAY. If you did play with that attitude, I’d guess you don’t get much ice time!!

  24. ducksk - Aug 8, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    Selfish b*stard. Standard Russian. Wish he’d go hang with Putin and the KHL. We won’t miss him.

    • bmoreredfury311 - Aug 8, 2014 at 8:17 PM

      HaHa great joke… You really had me believing that you’re a ignorant bastard.
      Oh wait, you are.

  25. cliffatola - Aug 8, 2014 at 4:31 PM, This about sums it up with Ovechkin.

  26. watermelon1 - Aug 8, 2014 at 10:45 PM

    Keep changing goalies, keep changing coaches…

    But they never addressed the real problem which is absolutely Zero true defenders.

    They FINALLY got some… But still should have flipped mike green and John Carlson for whatever they could get in return.

    Probably still not enough fire power to help out Ovechkin. (They used to have that when Bruce was the coach)

    Watching DC waste away Ovechkin’s best years is about as painful as watching Barry Sanders with the Lions.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kane (1799)
  2. P. Kessel (1383)
  3. M. Richards (1169)
  4. N. Backstrom (1081)
  5. M. Giordano (1031)