Alexander Ovechkin is white hot right now. What a week it was for the Washington Capitals phenom, as he continues to rewrite the record books. The 34-year-old Russian superstar scored eight goals over three games last week, all against Metropolitan Division foes. He buried back-to-back hat tricks in one of the strongest weeks of his career, and is now tied for ninth all-time in NHL goals.
Passing Mario Lemieux
The legendary Pittsburgh Penguin, Mario Lemieux, now falls to 11th in the all-time scoring list. Ovechkin entered the week six goals behind Lemieux, but made quick work of the deficit thanks to a ridiculous 67% shooting rate through three games. Lemieux finished his career with an absurd 0.75 goals per game (second to Mike Bossy), but has lost out to Ovechkin’s longevity on the all-time leaderboard.
Ovechkin tallied goal no. 691 in typical fashion. Flying into the New York Islanders zone, he put his classic toe drag to work on Scott Mayfield and utilized his size to create a small amount of space. As with of his goals, he threw the puck at the net and was rewarded with a kind bounce. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Wayne Gretzky understood this, and Ovechkin certainly does as well.
Dueling Hat Tricks
It’s like Ovechkin needs to wow the hockey world. His first three-goal performance of the week (poor New Jersey Devils) put him in a tie with the great Cy Denneny for ninth all-time in career hat tricks. Denneny had a storied run with the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators, racking up 25 hat tricks over a 12-year span.
Ovechkin wasn’t done. With the great Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard in his sights for eighth all-time, Ovechkin torched his former teammate, goaltender Semyon Varlamov, and head coach Barry Trotz, to the tune of three more goals. This gave the Caps’ captain 26 career trios to tie ‘The Rocket.’ Next up on the list? Marcel Dionne and Bobby Hull at 28. Will Ovechkin reach the mark in 2019-20? At this rate, it’s hard to believe he won’t.
Even with Steve Yzerman
Ovechkin’s obliteration of the Metro Division last week puts him into a tie with Steve Yzerman at 692 career goals. He trails “Stevie Y” in career assists by a large margin (494), but matched his goal total in 381 less games. The two respected captains round out the top 10 in all-time goals leaders, but it may not take long for Ovechkin to manipulate the rankings again.
The Capitals are back in action on Jan. 27, but Ovechkin will miss the game to serve a one-game suspension for deciding to skip the All-Star Game. The Nashville Predators come to town on Jan. 29 and will give Ovechkin his first shot to move past the great No. 19 and into sole possession of ninth place all-time.
Eyes on Messier
From one incredible leader to another. Ovechkin’s 692 goals are only two back of Mark Messier. ‘Moose’ polished off 694 goals and nearly 1900 points in one of the most historic careers in NHL history. “The Great 8” would align with his nickname if he passes Messier to become the eighth-highest scorer in NHL history. He likely won’t last long in that spot, but it would be enjoyable for the brief moment.
Remember when David Pastrnak was coasting along without a single worry in the NHL goals race? All of a sudden, there’s a very familiar face nipping at his heels. Pastrnak’s 37 goals lead the league, but he likely had an eye on the eight-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner who put up eight goals in three games last week. Pastrnak should know that it’s not going to be an easy race to claim the hardware this season.
That’s not even mentioning Auston Matthews, who’s tied with Ovechkin at 34 markers, and buried five goals in three games recently. The scoring crowd is beginning to thin, and three horses remain in the front of the race. Pastrnak is motoring along at an incredible pace (37 goals in 50 games), but he’s not out of the woods. Ovechkin is on the road to 700 career goals, and he doesn’t seem to care who he passes along the way.
It was an amazing week for the Capitals, and fans of the game in general. It doesn’t get much better than watching a premier goal-scorer at work at an exceptional level. Ovechkin is “the guy” when it comes to lighting the lamp and he was at his finest over the last three games. One can only hope he comes back from the brief break, and does more of the same.