Whether he’s scoring from the office or on snapshots in the slot, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is finding the back of the net, even at age 32 in a league that gets younger and faster every year.
As time has progressed, nothing has changed for Ovechkin, who has hit the 30-goal mark in each of his 13 seasons in the NHL. He’s three goals away from scoring his 600th career tally, a milestone that he said means a lot to him.
“When you get closer, you want it done earlier,” Ovechkin said of hitting the 600-goal mark. “You’re stuck at 599, you want to pass it. Hoping in a couple of games, I will have it done and we move forward.
Ovechkin’s Still Got It
Last season, Ovechkin had just 33 goals, with nearly half of them coming off the power play. After the Capitals lost a number of key forwards in the offseason, including Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson, there was a bit more pressure on Ovechkin’s shoulders, as they needed to fill the voids on offense as younger forwards like Andre Burakovsky and Jakub Vrana took on more responsibility.
In his first two games this season, Ovechkin had back-to-back hat tricks, and according to his teammates, seemed already to be off to a much better start and looked more determined on offense.
“You can see maybe he’s more hungry,” Evgeny Kuznetsov said of his countrymate. “I can see this in his eyes.”
The Russian winger has a league-leading 39 goals and 71 points in 64 games this season and is on pace to hit the 50-goal mark for the eighth time in his career. Not only does he also lead the league with 276 shots, but just 12 of those 39 goals this season have come on the man advantage.
“If you have a chance to shoot it, you have to shoot it,” Ovechkin said. “When you’re feeling it, you just want to be out there more and more.”
Capital Gains with Ovechkin’s Surge
As the Capitals approach the postseason, it’s easy to see that Ovechkin has played an instrumental part in the team’s success this season. Washington currently sits first in the Metropolitan Division and holds the fourth-place spot in the Eastern Conference, and they have also found success not just on the power play, but at even strength.
With Ovechkin’s success and scoring this season, he’s been able to power the top six, while also supplying offense from all different areas of the ice.
“He’s a shooter, he probably has the best goal-scorer shot of all time. He’s blessed with that ability,” goaltender Braden Holtby said. “I think this year, he’s using his teammates a bit more, creating a bit more, not just waiting for [the puck] to come to him. In order for him to be effective on our team, that’s where we need him to be, atop the league in goals. That’s his game. “He’s going to have to be a finisher.”
Head coach Barry Trotz has also been impressed with Ovechkin this season but believes that his ability has shown throughout the span of his career and hasn’t wavered with time.
“The man is such a presence, and he’s the greatest goal scorer in his generation,” Trotz said of Ovechkin.
Sammi Silber covers the Capitals beat for The Hockey Writers and is an NHL contributor with Sporting News. She has also contributed to USA TODAY College, Huffington Post, FanSided and the Nation Network. Silber has written four books and recently worked on graphics for the film, The California Golden Seals Movie.