Monday night, Alex Ovechkin scored twice in the 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets, winning the “duel” with Patrick Laine for the goal lead in the season. The re-encounter with the fans after the annual California trip had another reason to be special: with his second goal, Alexander Ovechkin reached the 600 career goal mark in the NHL.
The Caps managed to capitalize on a two-man advantage power play, which made it easy for Ovi to reach 599. Then the Jets answered to tie the game. But in the second period, the Caps put on the pressure and Ovechkin was near the net, taking advantage of the rebound to make history again: 600 goals. The Jets tied in the third period and the game went to the OT. So, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Ovi’s compatriot , gave the victory to the Caps in the overtime by 3-2.
Ovechkin became the 20th player in league history to reach the 600 goals and the fourth to achieve in fewer games (990), behind Wayne Gretzky (718), Mario Lemieux (719) and Brett Hull (900). Ovi is pretty familiar with entering in NHL select milestone lists. The question is: can he, in addition to overcoming Grezky to become the top scorer in league history, reach the 1,000 goals?
In 12 seasons in the NHL (not yet counting yet the 13th, which is still in progress), Ovechkin had the lowest number of goals scored in his career in the 2010/11 and 2012/13 seasons with just 32 goals. It’s worth mentioning that the 2012-13 season was shortened due to to the lockout. In 2007-08 he scored 65 goals, his career-high. So, let’s look at some numbers that show us if Ovechkin can, in fact, reach the 1,000 goals:
With 558 goals in 12 seasons, his average is 46.5 goals. In the half, that is, six seasons, he scored over 50. As it was already mentioned above, he scored 65 in one season. Only in the 2006-07 season were his numbers in the 40s, with 46 goals. The rest were in the 30’s. If we count so far in this season, that is still in progress, he’s already scored 42 goals and reached the mark of 600, with a goal average is 46.1, with the two seasons in the 40s. But if he scores at least five more goals this season, reaching 605 in his career, he keeps his average at 46.5. Also, there’s a possibility of reaching the 50 this season. With 42 goals, as it has been said, he has 13 more regular season games to score eight goals–the last regular season game for the Caps is April 7, hosting the New Jersey Devils.
If Ovechkin’s 46.5-goal average continues until he reaches his 20th season in the league, he’s going to reach 930 goals. Even if we dropped the average to 45 per season, he would still reach 900 goals. As Ovechkin has his birthday in September, during the offseason, at the end of his 20th season he will be 39-years old. Before 40, it’s possible that he could already have reached the mark of 900 goals and surpassed Gretzky. With 990 games in the league, Ovechkin has 497 games to reach Gretzky’s 1,487, that is, 497 games to match Gretzky’s 894-goal mark. :
Speaking about age. Ovi is on his way to his 33-years old. He doesn’t appear to have been affected by age, demonstrating great productivity, as always. In the last playoffs, he played games taking pain-numbing injections, due to Nazem Kadri’s hit on his knee in the series against Toronto, to the point of needing to have to be taken off by his colleagues. Fans have seen his dedication, even during the off season, to activities focusing on his performance, showing the discipline of Ovi as an athlete to keep him in shape, which is important to complement the talent. As mentioned above, even if we lowered the goal scoring average to 45, he is still likely to reach 900 goals. When it comes to the subject of age, let’s compare Ovechkin with the top five scorers in league history:
- Wayne Gretzky scored 894 goals in 21 seasons (1979-80 – 1998-99), totaling 1,487 games. He made his debut at 18 and retired at 37.
- The late Gordie Howe scored 801 goals in 26 seasons (1946-47 – 1970-71 and the 1979-80 season), totaling 1,767 games. He made his debut at 18 and played until 42, when he went to the World Hockey Association. In his last season, he retired at 51. Note: the numbers here are only for the NHL.
- Jaromír Jágr is still active, but having recently returned to HC Kladno from the WSM Liga, his first team and his hometown. He scored, in his long NHL career, 766 goals in 24 seasons (1990-91 – 2007-8 and 2011-12 – 2017-18), totaling 1,733 games. He made his debut in the league at 18 and, still active but in HC Kladno, is 45 years old.
- Brett Hull, scored 741 goals in 19 seasons (1986-87 – 2005-06), totaling 1,269 games. He made his debut at 22 and retired at 41.
- Marcel Dionne scored 731 goals in 18 seasons (1971-72 – 1988-98), totaling 1,348 games. He made his debut at 20 and retired at 37.
Some other players, such as Mike Gartner, whose jersey was retired by the Caps, scored 708 goals in 19 seasons, being seventh on the list of all-time goal scorers. He made his debut at 20 and retired at 38. Mark Messier scored 694 goals in 25 seasons, being eighth on the list. He made his debut at 18 and retired at 42.
The average retirement age of the league players is about 20 seasons, depending on the age of entry. As Ovechkin joined at the age of 20, having his debut in the league delayed due to the 2004-05 lockout, he’s got great chances for accomplishing this milestone. He’s already close with a considerable number of remaining seasons. If we established his minimum retirement age at 40, he could have seven more seasons. If we imagine that Ovechkin, who always cared about his physical form and who always has been a disciplined athlete, retired at 42, he would have ten more seasons to reach that milestone.
As a Brazilian, I’m going to talk about some soccer players who have reached the 1,000 goal mark, as well as including information for potential soccer fans or admirers reading here.
Pelé scored his 1,000th goal in 1969, playing for Santos in a 2-1 victory over Vasco da Gama. Born in 1940, he was, therefore, 29 years old when he reached that milestone in soccer. He played between 1956-1977, that is, 21 years of career, retiring when he was 37 years old.
Vasco da Gama, the soccer team which the one who writes is a fan of, participated once more in a 1000th, but now with a player wearing its shirt against Sport. Romário was the second Brazilian player in history to reach the 1000 goals. Born in 1966, the “Shorty” or the “The Little One”, as he is known, reached the mark in 2007, that is, at 41.
Let’s hope that Pelé has passed to Ovi some energy so that our captain can also reach the 1,000!
Next milestone to track: Ovechkin has 990 games in the league and 13 remaining to the end of the this regular season, meaning that Ovi will soon make history again April 1st in Pittsburgh.
This article was originally published by Washington Capitals Brasil.