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Alex Ovechkin’s Pursuit of History by Mike Patt

Welcome back IE Sports Radio Family. Today we will be talking some hockey, which is not as common this blog but hey, we are your direct feed for all that is sports. There are many great hockey players taking the ice nowadays, but one player in particular is re-writing history books yearly. That would be Washington Capitals Forward Alexander Ovechkin. A former first overall pick by the Caps back in 2004, Ovi (one of his many nicknames) has been a centerpiece in the Nation’s capital for 15 seasons. Known mainly for his offense, he has scored many incredible goals and helped DC make numerous playoff trips. His efforts culminated in the ultimate prize when the Caps won the Stanley Cup in 2018. Ovi already owns multiple records, including most goals in franchise history and most goals by a Russian-born player in NHL history, but several more may come. Let’s take a look on what is on the horizon and the probability of him reaching it.

Milestones to Come:

700 Goals, 800 Goals

These two marks almost seem trivial at this point. Ovi currently sits at 698 career regular season goals, which means he could reach the 700 mark this week for all we know. He will most certainly get there plus a few extra in the remaining 28 games of the season. His age might be a deterring factor in the chase for 800, but given that the 34 year old has shown no signs of slowing his scoring pace (he has 40 goals so far in year 15), I think we can assume he will maintain something close to his current rate for a few more seasons. That would put him passing the 800 mark in about 2.5 years, or the beginning of the 2022-2023 season. Not a bad way to celebrate turning 37. Overall I would say there is a high probability he gets to 800.

Most Game Winning Goals

This is a more precarious category, but Ovi is actually must closer than people realize. He just passed Brendan Shanahan with his 110th game winner, and with one more will pass Brett Hull and Teemu Selanne for sole possession of 4th place. Phil Esposito and Gordie Howe are next on the list, and Jaromir Jagr sits at the top with 135. Now that 25 goal gap seems big, but over his career Ovechkin has averaged one game winner every 10 games. If that pace slows to say one every 15 games, he would need to play 390 more games to clear Jagr for first place. That would be the rest of this season plus about 4.5 more seasons, and that’s if his pace slows. If his pace stays the same, it would only take another 3 years, which is very doable.

Most Power Play Goals

Power Play goals seem to be one of Ovechkin’s specialties, and you can see it in the numbers. He currently sits at 259 PPG (no basketball fans, not points per game), which is good for third place all time. In second place, we have Brett Hull with 265 PPG. Ovi might be able to reach that by the end of the season, but most certainly will be able to get there next year. In first place is the Dave Andreychuk (great last name) who finished his career with 275. At his current place of about one every five to six games, he would own this record by the end of the 2020-2021 season. This seems just as reachable as the 700/800 goal mark.

Most Hat Tricks

Out of all of the targets listed here, this one is the most out of reach. As things stand, Ovi has 27 hat tricks in his career, and that’s including the three he has scored in the past two weeks. That is a rate of about two per season. The all time leader in this category is none other than Wayne Gretzky, who amassed 50 hat tricks over his historic career. If you are quick at math, you can see how that difference is pretty insurmountable. Still Ovechkin has a chance to collect a few more three goal games before he retires and settle in a nice spot in the top five. He only needs seven more to pass Brett Hull, which seems to be an ongoing target in these chases, and finish 4th. That would be an admirable final spot, as getting 13 to pass Mike Bossy for 3rd seems tough.

All-Time Goals Leader

Now we come to the creme de la creme of this discussion. This chase partially coincides with the first one, but surely deserves it’s own section. Ovi’s 698 goals have him 8th on the all-time list. Naturally, Wayne Gretzky makes a reappearance as the all-time leading goal scorer at 894. Let’s assume that Ovechkin does not continue his ridiculous hot streak (16 goals in his past 7 games) and scores a more reasonable 14 goals in the last 28 games of the season, which is about on par for his career. That would put him at 712, and jump him ahead of former Capital Mike Gartner for 7th all-time. The remaining gap between him and Gretzky would be 182. At Ovi’s seasonal average, which would be 47.5 if he indeed makes it to 712 before the end of the year, it would take him almost four full seasons to claim the top spot on the all-time goal scoring list.

The real question we have here is will Ovechkin still be putting up 45+ goals in a season at age 38? My guess is not, since age will eventually catch up to the man. To counter this point, there is reason to believe that, given his current physical state, he could easily play five more seasons. Now if that is the case, Ovi would only have to average 37 goals per season to get to number one, which is a much more reasonable expectation. Will he play that long? Who knows, but he should easily jump to fourth all-time by the end of next season (once again, passing poor Brett Hull) and has a reasonable shot at being in 2nd place at the end of 2022. This record has the most 50/50 chance on this list, but I’m leaning on the side of him sticking around until he makes that mark.

Now all of these projections assume that Ovechkin will stay healthy, which is never a guarantee. He has been quite durable over his career, but as the body gets older and breaks down you simply do not know for sure. I am also assuming that he plays full seasons, which it is possible that he might get rest games as he gets older. Many factors could limit his potential to reach these records, but that doesn’t shake my confidence in the great 8. For his career Ovechkin is an 11 time all-star, 12 time first or second team all-NHL, 3 time MVP, and 8 time goal scoring leader (go figure). He would be in the Hall of Fame if he retired tomorrow, and will go down as the greatest goal scorer of our era whether he breaks these records or not. That will do it for this post. Thank you all for reading, and we will see you next time on the IE Sports Radio Blog, your direct blog for all that is sports. Have a great day.

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