Stop a moment and appreciate what Alex Ovechkin has achieved already this season.
The Washington Capitals left winger will enter Wednesday’s game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden ranked second in the NHL in goals scored with 23. Only Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning has found the back of the net more this season (24).
But Ovechkin is eight years older than Kucherov. At the age of 32, the Capitals’ captain is on pace to surpass the 50-goal plateau for the eighth time in his illustrious career. Goal scoring is up this season, but what Ovechkin has done so far this season — at his age and after arguably the least productive season of his career — has been simply ridiculous.
Of his 23 goals this season, he has scored 17 of them at even strength and six on the power play.
Appreciating the Greatness of the Ageless Wonder Alex Ovechkin
If Ovechkin can surpass Kucherov and win his seventh Rocket Richard Trophy, he would become the oldest player to lead the league in goal scoring since Phil Esposito scored 33 in 1974-75. He could also become the first player to play at least 980 career games and lead the league in goal scoring since Gordie Howe in 1962-63.
Ovechkin, who currently leads the race for the captain of the Metropolitan Division at the All-Star Game in January, ranks first in shots (165), third in goals created (16.2), first in hat tricks (3) and fourth in offensive point shares (4.2).
He has done some amazing things during his first 13 seasons. Ovechkin scored 50 or more goals in three straight seasons from 2013-14 to 2015-16. He scored 65 goals in 2008-09 becoming the first player to top the 60-goal mark in a single season since Mario Lemieux scored 69 in 1995-96.
His list of accomplishments is extensive. Among active players, only 45-year-old Jaromir Jagr has scored more career goals (766) than Ovechkin (581). He needs only 19 goals to hit 600. If he retired today, Ovi would finish 20th all-time in goal scoring.
Quick Start to Silence the Doubters
Despite playing in all 82 games last season, Ovechkin attempted only 313 shots. This was 85 fewer shots than 2015-16. It was also his lowest total since 2012-13 (220) when he played in only 78 games. He averaged only 0.40 goals per game last season, the lowest mark in his career.
That is what has made his production this season even more impressive.
Many thought his goal scoring was finally starting to trend down. But he still is one of the most prolific goal scores in the entire NHL. Of the top 10 goal scorers this season, Ovechkin and Anze Kopitar are the only two over the age of 30 and the youngest is 19, Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets.
Ovechkin is already a sure-fire Hall of Famer but another 50-goal season would add icing to his cake of achievements. He has been an All-Star 11 times. Ovechkin won the 2005-06 Calder Memorial Trophy and is a three-time winner of the Hart and Pearson trophies. He also won the Art Ross Trophy in 2007-08.
After scoring 10 goals in October and eight more in November, Ovechkin only has five goals in 11 December games. But every time Ovechkin has gone through a scoring drought, he always seems to right the ship quickly.
Ovechkin is moving faster than last season.When he gets to the left faceoff circle, good luck to the opposing goaltender. He still is one of the most dangerous players with the puck on the rush and in the high-slot. His one-timer is still the best in the league.
What Ovechkin has done this season at his age is a testament to his work ethic and passion for the game. He still hopes to pay off his individual efforts with the one thing missing from his resume — a Stanley Cup.
WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 10: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with teammates after scoring a third-period goal against the New Jersey Devils at Verizon Center on October 10, 2015, in Washington, DC. The Washington Capitals won, 5-3. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)