The Washington Capitals continue their season-long six-game road trip with the second half of the stretch Monday night at Staples Center where they’ll take on the Los Angles Kings. These teams actually met one week ago at Capital One Arena with the Caps coming on top 6-4. Since the win, which ironically capped off a season long homestand of six games, the Caps have gone 1-2-0 thus far on the trip. Continue reading “The Pregame: A Rematch in Hollywood”
Brittney Marcum and Michael Marzzacco
We know the title to this article might throw you off a bit but let’s look at the numbers and let them speak for themselves.
First up is the number of trophies won during his playing career: four Stanley Cups, five Lady Byng Memorial Trophies (sportsmanship), nine Hart Trophies (MVP), five Leter B. Pearson trophies (most outstanding player in regular season, voted by members of the NHLPA) , 10 Art Ross Trophies (leader in points), and two Conn Smythe Trophies (playoff MVP). Doing the math, that’s a total of 36 trophies!
The stats truly tell the story as well. In his impressive NHL career, Gretzky scored 894 goals and 1,963 assists for 2,857 points. His best scoring season came in 1981-82 with the Edmonton Oilers when he was 21-years old. Gretzky scored 92 goals and registered 120 helpers for 212 points. In 1985-86, Gretzky led the league with 163 assists. Numbers like that in the NHL today are unheard of!
Gretzky led the league in goals in five of six years, including four straight seasons. He was an assist machine, leading the league in helpers for 16 seasons and in points for 11 seasons, including eight straight.
Now let’s take a look at some video of some of Gretzky’s goals.
This video comes from a playoff game between Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames. After some passing of the puck around a few shots traded from both sides, Gretzky was found all alone on a breakaway. Rather than going all the way to the net to beat the goaltender, Gretzky shot the puck in a familar place that we see from Alex Ovechkin from time to time. What was even more amazing was that this goal came in overtime while the Oilers were shorthanded!
This next goal comes from when Gretzky was with the Los Angeles Kings on March 23, 1994. While the Kings were on the power play attack, Gretzky created a tic-tac-toe like goal from start to finish. This was a historic goal, the 802nd of his amazing NHL career. The tally made Gretzky’s the NHL’s scoring king as he became the all-time leading goal scorer.
If you go to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto there’s a great display of pucks, 802 to be exact from each of those 802 goals.
To answer the question from the headline, yes he really was THAT good. They don’t call him “The Great One” for nothing. There may not be a player like Gretzky but thankfully here in Washington we’ve got someone pretty close. The one we like to call “The Great Eight”, Alex Ovechkin. Gretzky himself has been impressed by the prolific scoring that Ovechkin has provided to the Capitals. While Gretzky was coaching the Phoenix Coyotes during Ovechkin’s rookie year, Ovechkin scored this awesome goal. He got the puck, went around the defender on his back and still managed to get the puck past Coyotes goaltender Brian Boucher.
Now that Ovechkin has won a Stanley Cup and scored over 600 goals, there may be a possibilty he can catch Gretzky, or at least come close. Every goal from here on out brings him closer but it was Gretzky who laid the foundation and made the sport of hockey what it is today.
The Capitals are in the position to begin thinking about transitioning their high-performing players to aging under-performing players. And by under-performing we mean players whose stats are on the decline compared to their previous performance or to the performance of newer younger players. Yes we mean Alex Ovechkin in particular.
Just a year ago we were talking about the maturity of the Caps top line players. At that point we focused on how they had grown as they learned from their mistakes. They had time to hone their hockey skills. And yes, they had matured in their personal lives too, as most of the older players are now married (or in long-term relationships) with children. Today; however, they are the ‘aging’ players whose player maturity will have less impact as they come against younger, stronger, and faster players around the league. Continue reading “The Ovechkin Future: How Teams Deal with Their Fading Stars”