Is This Backstrom’s Year to Lead Caps in Points?

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Posted December 20, 2014

(Caps Outsider)

Don’t look now but the Washington Capitals might have a new point leader at the end of the season. After nine consecutive years of leading the team in total points and goals, Alex Ovechkin is on pace to fall to second on the team by the season’s end, as linemate Nicklas Backstrom is piling on the points. While Backstrom did tie Ovechkin for total points last year, with 79, Ovechkin still had (way) more goals (51 to Backstrom’s 18), which is considered the tie-breaker.

This year, however, through 32 games, Backstrom has 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists), to Ovi’s 27 (15 goals, 12 assists). While there is still plenty of hockey to play, Backstrom has added ‘multi-goal-scorer’ to his resume recently, while still piling on the assists. Ovi, meanwhile, is only on pace for 70 points – near a career low – but does tend to have ultra-hot streaks, which he’s bound to do this season at some point.

I’m fairly certain that Ovechkin doesn’t really care about the team points lead at the end of the season (I’ll bet he cares about the goals lead, though!). In fact, if anyone does take his team points title, he’d be rooting for Backstrom. I’d also bet that Ovi will break out eventually, having multiple multi-point games in spurts, as he’s done many times in the past. But so long as the Caps keep winning, top line points or not, who leads the team in total points at the end of the season hardly matters.

Ovi’s career stats

Season GP G A P +/- Team rank
2005-6 81 52 54 106 2 1
2006-7 82 46 46 92 -19 1
2007-8 82 65 47 112 28 1
2008-9 79 56 54 110 8 1
2009-10 72 50 59 109 45 1
2010-11 79 32 53 85 24 1
2011-12 78 38 27 65 -8 1
2012-13 48 32 24 56 2 1
2013-14 78 51 28 79 -35 1
2014-15 32 15 12 27 7 2
710 436 404 840 51

Backstrom’s career stats

Season GP G A P +/- Team rank
2007-8 82 14 55 69 13 2
2008-9 82 22 66 88 16 2
2009-10 82 33 68 101 37 2
2010-11 77 18 47 65 24 2
2011-12 42 14 30 44 -4 5
2012-13 48 8 40 48 8 3
2013-14 82 18 61 79 -20 2
2014-15 32 10 24 34 3 1
527 137 391 528 77

Note: I included plus/minus stats here just to piss people off.