The sports world is full of stories of players pursuing almost-insurmountable records and recently hockey fans were treated to another of those herculean-like accomplishments with Caps’ captain Alex Ovechkin joining the 800 goal club. Despite the fact that Ovechkin’s goal came on the road in Chicago, his accomplishment is still worth a standing “Ovi”tion for not only Caps fans but hockey fans in general.
The 800 goal club is an elite institution in the NHL.
To say that Alex Ovechkin has reached the pinnacle of his career with his 800th career goal is a major understatement. For Ovechkin, the history books now will always remember him in the same breath as the late great Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky. The Elite Eight now has his name mentioned in the same company as Mr. Hockey and the Great One. Earlier this season, Ovechkin broke Gordie Howe’s goal scoring record with the same team and now the sky’s the limit – as long as Alex Ovechkin can keep healthy and scoring goals, his career could possibly surpass Gretzky’s 894 NHL record career goals. Of course, that pursuit is a big if.
What does Ovechkin’s record pursuit do for the Capitals?
In reality, The Capitals have floundered around this season and bounced from losing streaks to short winning streaks and back to losing ways to a 15-13-4 record so far. Alex Ovechkin remains the very heart and soul of this franchise and still is the team leader this season with 20 goals and 15 assists. To put it mildly, the Caps this year offensively are basically nothing without their team captain leading the way. The closest offensive production to Ovechckin comes from Dylan Strome who has six goals and 18 assists. Production numbers from Evgeny Kuznestsov, Conor Sheary and John Carlson pale in comparison to the Great Eight this season.
Ovechkin himself has downplayed some of the hype surrounding his goal records and has gone on the record as wanting to be a full team player and not just a ticket-selling hero pursuing a record to create drama in an otherways bland season. In other words, Ovechkin’s efforts this season should be going towards another Stanley Cup playoff run and not just a historic footnote in NHL record books.
For all of this efforts, Alex Ovechkin is truly the center of this franchise and if he can stay healthy and productive, his goal record pursuit may provide a symbolic distraction away from the fact that the Capitals are an organization in trouble. With injuries and player age creeping up on this organization and a no fantastic prospect pool waiting in the wings, the Capitals need some sort of shot in the collective arm of the franchise to keep fans interested while still keeping the team relevant in the postseason hunt.