Alex Ovechkin On Pace for Best Season of Assists

Posted December 13, 2021

(Caps Outsider)

In the first 28 games of the season, Alex Ovechkin has 24 assists. Why that’s interesting is that he has already passed the total number he had last season (18 in 45 games), the year before that (19 in 68 games), and a far cry from his career low in a full season, as he only had 21 in 2015-2016. Meanwhile, his career high is 59, in one of only four seasons in which he had more assists than goals (not including this year). This season, he’s on pace for 70, a Bitcoin-like surge.

What’s going on here? Did something change? Ovi won’t tell us, other than when his teammates are playing well, he’ll get some secondaries.

Perhaps he’s heard the criticism that he shoots when he should be passing, and now wants to prove critics wrong. Perhaps he hasn’t changed his game at all, but the absence of Nicklas Backstrom means he’s getting those apples instead. Perhaps Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson are playing better than ever (they are), and Ovi is a lucky beneficiary of their stellar play. Maybe it’s a mixture of all of these reasons, and others.

No matter what, Ovi’s assist total this season is a pleasant surprise, and the extra points have him in the hunt for an Art Ross. Plus, he’s getting these without sacrificing his goal totals, which are still ahead of his five-goals in eight-games career average.

While it remains to be seen if he can keep up this pace, needless to say, he’s a 36-year-old who continues to defy expectations.

Here’s a chart of his total assists in blue, next to his projected assists in red if he played all 82-games.

From 2015-16:

What Happened to Alex Ovechkin’s Assists?