Alexander Ovechkin is the greatest goal scorer of his generation, and some could argue he is the best ever at beating goalies with a piece of frozen rubber. Only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy, and Brett Hull ever scored 500 goals quicker then Ovi. All played when goals were scored at a higher clip then today. Even 99 has been in awe of Ovi’s dynamic scoring ability. We all recall “The Goal” vs the Coyotes! How about “that time” when he scored six seconds into an OT vs the Thrashers in ’06 …. after tying it up late in the third to boot. Or that time he went off the boards in a 180 to himself before burying one against the Canadiens, or that time when he…You get the point.
When many factors are considered like goalie style and equipment, systems play, pre-scouting and coaching which have astronomically evolved over the years, it’s made it even more difficult to do the hardest thing in hockey today…score goals. The NHL today has the best goaltending the league has ever seen without debate at least from a depth point of view. To me that’s the biggest part in the decline of goals over the years. The ’05-’06 NHL Rookie of the Year has rewritten the book on the hockey saying: “if you don’t shoot you can’t score,” as he seemingly is able to get his shot off with much regularity; much to the dismay of opposing targets and sometimes the unfortunate player tasked with blocking his shot. No thanks! In that rookie campaign he fired 425 shots on goal which led rookies, the league and is the fourth highest total ever. He beat that with 528 in 2008-’09 which is a record for left wingers.
Jason Gregor, who watched a lot of Gretzky with local Edmonton media, articulates this well in this article from last year.
When the Great Eight scored his 500th goal back in January of 2016, with a wicked wrister over the left shoulder of Sens goalie Andrew Hammond, the excitement Ovi had on his face was, well, much like his reaction to many of the other goals he scored. About the only thing missing from the goal was an assist from partner in crime Nicklas Backstrom. Sorry Chimera, it just doesn’t have the same ring to it. The man loves to score and you generally can’t tell if its his first or 50th of the year. Minus one celebration in Tampa Bay that we all remember, as does Don Cherry, but I digress.
The OT winner vs the Anaheim Ducks Saturday night at Capital One Arena put the Caps back on top of the heated Metro division. And it continued to add to the now 581 Goals (All-time Russian NHL leader) since the now legendary night when he potted two G’s in his first game against Columbus. It also added to his career NHL record in OT goals with 23 OTGW ‘s. Scoring eight goals in the first four games this year, Ovi is off to his best start ever. Only four other players since 1967-68 have ever accomplished that feat. And as the season has gone on we’ve seen two things from the Captain.
The first is something we are all familiar with. He is scoring goals from all over the ice. As DC fans know, Ovi scores much more than just with the patented one-timer from the OviSpot on the power play (as fun as that is) as he has even went backhand shelf on a breakaway and a couple of tipped goals so far this year. He is driving the net and adding some lunch-pail goals to his totals. Maybe Tom Wilson is rubbing off on him…I kid..but it does seem like Ovechkin is going to the higher traffic areas more often and scoring in a variety of ways. Important to note, this is not a PP driven statistical anomoly as Ovechkin is amongst the NHL leaders in 5 on 5 play with only six G’s and six A’s of the points coming when the Caps have the man advantage. It’s a great bet, barring injury of course, we see an eighth 50 goal season with the possibility of 60+ season still there.
The second and maybe a little more of a surprise: Ovechkin seems quicker and lighter on his feet and while he always had a quick start gear, he’s seemingly able to keep the jets on longer and we’re seeing some vintage Ovechkin this season. (Not to mention many assists this season have been quite nice). It’s clear the “extra” work he put in during the off-season is paying off for him, the team, and of course us!
Another good sign for more goals this season is that Ovechkin is taking shots again closer to his normal clip after his lowest SPG last year of 3.81 since 2011-’12. This year he is averaging 4.59 SPG (career avg 4.92) after the 34th game and as stated earlier he seems to be getting shots off from everywhere. Ask the Montreal Canadiens.
An interesting stat to note as Ovechkin is now 32 years old is that since 1975-’76 only one player (Jaromir Jagr had 54 G’s at age 33 in ’05-’06 with the Rangers) has scored more than 50 goals in a season when 32 or older. Ovechkin looks to be well on his way to being the second this year and I bet he’ll do it again next year making him the only one to do it twice. Why not?
He’s recorded a shot on goal an astonishing 99% of the games he’s played in…..ever.
Keep shooting Ovi .. Keep Shooting..
Go Caps Go