Alex Ovechkin is one of the greatest players in NHL history and owns a lot of records. But there’s one thing the brash and confident goal-scorer thinks he absolutely cannot do.
Thursday, during the Capitals first day of Training Camp, Ovechkin was asked about what it would be like to pass second-place Gordie Howe on the NHL’s all-time goals list. Seemingly filled with dread that he was going to be asked this question a thousand times over the next few months, the Capitals captain pointed out that him passing Gordie is not happening any time soon in his own Ovi Way.
“Let’s wait,” Ovechkin said. “I can’t score 21 goals in one game. I can’t.”
Personally, I’m dubious, but maybe Ovi has a point.
While Ovechkin is tied for sixth for the most hat tricks of all time (28), he doesn’t even own the Capitals’ franchise record for the most goals in one game. Peter Bondra and Bengt-Ake Gustafsson are the only Capitals players to score five goals in a game. Ovechkin though has notched four different four-goal games.
The record-holder for the most goals in one game is Joe Malone who scored seven times in 1920. Plus the most goals ever scored by one team in a game is 16, which the Montreal Canadiens did — also in 1920. What a wild year that must have been.
So perhaps an Ovechtrick is more realistic.
As for his philosophy towards the goals record, the 37-year-old Ovechkin stressed that while he’s aware of it, he does not focus that far ahead.
“It’s always day-by-day,” Ovechkin said. “You can’t look forward much. Today we completed our skating test. Tomorrow is going to be a hard practice. We start from there.”
Headed into the season, Ovechkin has 780 goals and trails Wayne Gretzky by 114. If Ovechkin can average 38 goals per campaign, he will catch The Great One by the end of the 2024-25 season with one year remaining on his contract.
The questions were edited for brevity and understanding.
There were some pretty substantial changes to the roster, namely in goal. What do you think of this team’s chances this year?
Alex Ovechkin: Well, obviously, every year some new guys come in and changes all that’s happening. That’s hockey business. You make a friendship and it’s hard to see your friends and good players go, but we players, it’s not up to us. We wish everybody luck and I’m looking forward to this year.
How are you guys going to handle not having Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson long-term?
Alex Ovechkin: They’re key players for us, but the pieces we do have, have experience, skill. We’re going to work hard to welcome them and we’re going to play good.
How does having Darcy Kuemper change things for the team and what do you think of his game?
Alex Ovechkin: We haven’t played a lot against him, but he’s a Stanley Cup champion from last year. When you have a solid goalie, it gives you more chances to win.
How much does winning the championship from last year matter?
Alex Ovechkin: It’s always nice to have experienced guys on your team. They share their moments because lots of guys was there. It’s cool to have that kind of person and that kind of player on our team.
How was your offseason?
Alex Ovechkin: Offseason was good. Spent time with my family, play soccer, score goal, kill a guy! It was fun. It was a great time. Obviously, a fast time, but nothing you can do. Happy to be back. Can’t wait to go.
How was it to be back with your kids?
Alex Ovechkin: It was great time to see my parents and my friends. Went on vacation. We have a great time.
Did you do anything different with Pavel, your trainer, over the offseason?
Alex Ovechkin: Not really. Every year we try to do something different, something more. Right now I’m pretty happy with [how] in-shape [I am]. You have to be 100 percent for Training Camp.
You had a very good year last year. Are you going to try to match or surpass what you did?
Alex Ovechkin: I’m at the age where personal goals are nice but I understand every year I begin to end career. I want to win and be in playoffs and fight for a Cup.
What are your thoughts on the political situation in Russia — there have been protests — and is it weighing on you at all?
Alex Ovechkin: To be honest with you, like I heard about it. I’m going to have more information later on because time difference. We’ll see what’s going to happen.
Is the goals record on your mind coming into the season?
Alex Ovechkin: No. It’s always day-by-day. You can’t look forward much. Today we completed our skating test. Tomorrow is going to be a hard practice. We start from there.
Having played with Tom Wilson so much on your opposite wing, how does his long-term injury affect you and who might be his replacement?
Alex Ovechkin: I think that’s a question you have to ask Lavy, who’s going to be our winger. We bring a couple new guys who have experience to play right wing/center. It’s a big opportunity for several guys to step up and take a spot and show they can play in the NHL.
‘Get me the puck’ is what you should have said.
Alex Ovechkin: If I’m open, yeah. [laughs]
Have you taken on more of a mentorship role with some of the younger players?
Alex Ovechkin: Not yet. Still have a couple years on my contract. I want to finish up my career on a good note. Still four years left right? It’s a long time. You never know what’s going to happen.
Is there an urgency with playoff success?
Alex Ovechkin: The most important thing is everybody have to be healthy and we have to make the playoffs. The first 20 games is very important. You have [to have a good amount of] points, so if you have ups and downs during the season, you still have those points you make. You could see last year, teams was missing one point, two points. You don’t want to play six months, you want to play eight months and fight for a Cup.
What do you think of Ivan Miroshnichenko, the Capitals first-round selection in the 2022 NHL Draft?
Alex Ovechkin: Great pick. He’s one of the young player who can be superstar and good. I didn’t talk to him yet but I can talk to him any time. I wish him luck and hope he’s going to be here next year.
You’re 21 goals from Gordie Howe – the idea you could be second in goals in league history at some point this year…
Alex Ovechkin: Let’s wait. I can’t score 21 goals in one game. I can’t.
Screenshot courtesy of the Capitals
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.