Alex Ovechkin finished the 2016-17 campaign with 33 goals, his lowest full-season total since 2010-11. Coming into the new season, the Washington Capitals, having lost a lot of secondary scoring during the offseason, looked to the 32-year-old forward for more.
According to coach Barry Trotz, the bar for Ovechkin is most always set at 50, while the man himself knows all he needs is the chance to reach those loft expectations.
''I'm a goal-scorer, and my job is to score goals,'' Ovechkin said before the season started. ''The more goals, more points I'm gonna get is gonna be much better.''
Just five games into the 2017-18 season, Ovechkin is almost 20% of the way to that goal, having begun the season with a goal bonanza, racking up an NHL-leading nine goals and 10 points. He earned First Star of the Week honors after scoring three goals on opening night for the Caps and the following four-goal performance in their second game, making him the fourth player in league history to open the season with back-to-back hat tricks. Singular tallies came against Pittsburgh and New Jersey, again putting Ovechkin in the history books alongside Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux and Patrick Marleau as the only players to score nine times in the first five games of a season.
Ahead of Saturday's games, he has more goals than seven teams. It’s the best five-game stretch of any point during his 13-year career.
“The way he’s able to create space for himself, to jump in holes and his release is second to none,” Capitals forward T.J. Oshie told the Washington Post. “Am I surprised on O’s production? I don’t think so. Am I impressed? Very.”
Ovechkin is currently on pace to score 140-plus goals this season, and while that, along with maintaining a shooting percentage of 31%, isn’t exactly realistic, he has a shot to surpass his career best of 65 goals and could be the league’s first 70-goal scorer since Alex Mogilny and Teemu Selanne notched 76 apiece in 1992-93. A seventh Rocket Richard Trophy might just be in order.
Oh, and his scoring binge has him—maybe, possibly, perhaps—eyeing up Wayne Gretzky’s career mark of 894 goals. It’s a long way away from his current total of 567, but it’s always been hard to rule out Ovechkin.