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The Ever-Improving Alex Ovechkin

Remember how good - how historically good - Alex Ovechkin's 2007-08 season was? Of course you do. And with that in mind, take note: he may having a better 2008-09.

Ovechkin, who had 65 goals, 47 assists and a plus-28 rating a season ago is now on pace for 55 goals, 57 assists and a plus-26 rating. But let's dig a little deeper. First, a look at some five-on-five numbers (prior to last night's game):

TOI/60 Rating QualComp QualTeam Corsi G/60 A/60 GFON/60
2007-08 16.6 1.74 0.03
13.0 1.68 1.32 3.79 2.56
2008-09 15.75 1.66 -0.06 0.33 16.6 1.73 1.34 4.16 2.31

That assist differential pops, as do the Goals For and Goals Against and a 28% bump in Corsi. The bottom line here is that AO is creating more goals and allowing fewer, per sixty minutes of even strength time.

Now on to AO's five-on-four numbers:

TOI/60 G/60 A/60 GFON/60
2007-08 5.31 3.03 1.52 7.03 0.69
2008-09 5.10 2.50 3.21 9.99 1.07

Here, AO's goals are down a bit (he led the League in power play tallies a year ago), but his points per sixty are way up - from 4.55 to 5.71, and his Goals For per sixty are up 42%... and all of this with Mike Green and Alex Semin missing huge chunks of time.

In addition to the numbers above, AO is getting ice time on the penalty kill (1:13 per game, up from the nine seconds he got last year) and is averaging a full hit more per game (3.68 to 2.68).

The most important stat, of course, is that despite all of the injuries, inconsistent goaltending and slow starts, the Caps are now second in the Eastern Conference. Second. And that's due in no small part to Alex Ovechkin becoming an even better-rounded hockey player than he was last season. Amazing, ain't it?