With or Without You at Five-on-Five

via daylife.com

That the Washington Capitals are a better team with Alex Ovechkin on the ice at five-on-five than with him on the bench would probably be the least controversial assertion made in this space since we referred to Dane Cook as "unfunny." But how do we quantify how much better the Caps were during AO's shifts?

It's rather simple, really - take a look at the team's plus-minus while he was on the ice and compare it to the plus-minus rate when he was off the ice (thanks, BtN!). Needless to say, a positive differential here (i.e. a better +/-ON than +/-OFF) indicates that the team was better off with him than without him.

With that introduction out of the way, let's take a look at the numbers for the skaters who played at least twenty games for the Caps, with quality of competition and teammates thrown in for context (remember, this is all five-on-five):


Player QualComp QualTeam +/- ON/60
+/- OFF/60 Δ
Alexander Semin 0.023 0.254 1.84 0.06 1.78
Mike Green -0.006 0.108 1.37 0.03 1.34
Nicklas Backstrom -0.015 0.144 1.01 0.07 0.94
Tyler Sloan -0.002 -0.178 1.00 0.15 0.85
Sergei Fedorov -0.001 0.206 0.85 0.07 0.78
Alex Ovechkin -0.014 0.241 0.81 0.31 0.50
Eric Fehr -0.001 -0.038 0.85 0.39 0.46
Jeff Schultz -0.005 0.095 0.61 0.28 0.33
Brooks Laich -0.004 0.006 0.46 0.34 0.12
Shaone Morrisonn -0.018 0.109 0.06 0.19 -0.13
Tomas Fleischmann 0.010 0.079 0.15 0.31 -0.16
Michael Nylander -0.042 0.028 0.15
0.49 -0.34
Milan Jurcina -0.038 -0.116 0.10
0.45 -0.35
Matt Bradley -0.049 -0.318 -0.08
0.46 -0.54
David Steckel -0.035 -0.206 -0.16
0.45 -0.61
John Erskine -0.059 0.118 -0.08 0.61 -0.69
Viktor Kozlov -0.032 0.236 -0.28 0.46 -0.74
Tom Poti 0.053 0.076 0.00 0.82 -0.82
Karl Alzner 0.003 -0.130 0.00 0.86 -0.86
Chris Clark -0.015 -0.067 -0.55 0.66 -1.21
Boyd Gordon
-0.047 -0.339 -0.60 0.71 -1.31
Donald Brashear
-0.097 -0.498 -0.70 0.67 -1.37

And, just for fun, the two new guys:


Player QualComp QualTeam +/- ON/60
+/- OFF/60 Δ
Brendan Morrison
-0.076 0.044 0.47 0.09 0.38
Mike Knuble
0.040 0.335 0.23 0.16 0.07

Alright, so what've we got? A few observations:

  • Naturally, the Young Guns are going to fare well here (and at everyone else's expense), given that they tended to be on and off ice together.
  • For all of you "best defense is a good offense" believers, Alex Semin and Mike Green are your poster boys (though this doesn't account for penalties taken, so keep that in mind).
  • Small sample and all, but Tyler Sloan has to impress here, especially in light of the low quality of the guys with whom he skated.
  • Despite playing with vastly weaker teammates than AO, Eric Fehr ended up right on Ovie's tail here. Get well soon, Fehrsie. Seriously.
  • Shaone Morrisonn played with relatively high quality teammates and against below average opposition, but still ended up on the wrong side of zero here (though not by much).
  • Nylander. Oy.
  • Checkers like Steckel and Bradley aren't going to look good here because when they're on the ice, AO and friends aren't, and vice versa, so Stecks and Brads et. al. will have bad +/-OFF ratings. To be expected.
  • Did I say, "Nylander. Oy."? I meant Kozlov. Oy. Good riddance.
  • Tom Poti played the toughest opposition to a standstill. He gets a pass here. Karl Alzner, too, to a lesser extent.
  • Hopefully Chris Clark's miserable, miserable year is well behind him.
  • How about B-Mo (and that was in a down year)?

There's more to take away from these numbers, but that's a start. You guys can finish it in the comments.

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