Seven Hockey Hall of Fame members have scored 700 goals in the NHL, and earlier this season, Alex Ovechkin became the eighth player in league history to do so. But you knew that. And it’s just one more thing the 34-year-old superstar has added to a Hall of Fame resume that includes a Stanley Cup, gold on the international stage with the Russian national team and several pieces of individual hardware.
But the NHL’s decision to pause its season, and the possibility that the league will skip straight to the playoffs instead of resuming the regular season, could rob Ovechkin of one mark he’s been chasing: the record for most 50-goal seasons in NHL history. Prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, Ovechkin was well on his way to tying Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy, who had nine career 50-goal seasons apiece. But Ovechkin, who is second all-time with eight 50-goal campaigns, remains stuck at 48 tallies this season, and his pursuit of the 50-goal milestone is now on hold.
That doesn’t mean his pursuit of the mark is over. If – and it’s an increasingly bigger if – the regular season resumes, Ovechkin will no doubt get the two goals needed to tie a long-standing record. But if the league heads straight to the post-season? Well, reaching the record isn’t so certain. While it’s not like he’s slowing down and Ovechkin could have realistically hit 55 goals this season, Father Time waits for no one and the decline could be coming at any moment. While it seems foolish to suggest he’ll never score 50 again, there’s no knowing for certain that he will.
Ovechkin’s pursuit of the 50-goal seasons milestone isn’t the only major mark in jeopardy with the 2019-20 season on hold, though. Here are four other players that will fall just shy of a momentous achievements if the regular season doesn’t resume:
Games Played – Patrick Marleau, nine games to 1,734 (third all-time)
When you haven’t missed a regular season game since 2009 and your career spans 22 years, you’re bound to rack up a few major milestones. In January, the longtime San Jose Sharks forward played in his 1,700th game. But now with Pittsburgh, Marleau needs nine more games to pass Ron Francis (1,731) for fourth all-time and two more to sneak by Jaromir Jagr (1,733). After that, only Gordie Howe (1,767) and Mark Messier (1,756) will have played more games than Marleau. If he plays another season, he’d certainly take the No. 1 spot.
Games Played – Travis Zajac (nine) and Shea Weber (10) chase 1,000
Zajac, like the rest of the Devils, has struggled to find the scoresheet this season, but it’s his longevity that has him staring down the millennium mark for games played. Meanwhile, Weber, who was in line to play his 1,000th game against his former team, the Nashville Predators, might not get to celebrate it at all. Both players are certain to hit 1,000 games at some point next season, if nothing else. When Weber does, he’ll be the 15th player from that famous 2003 NHL draft to do so.
Assists – Jason Spezza, one assist to 600
When 36-year-old Spezza signed a one-year deal with his hometown team for the league minimum salary, it looked as though it had potential to be his swan song. And frankly, the experiment has worked out. Spezza hasn’t been a game-in, game-out player, but his 25 points in 58 games had him in line to meet or surpass the 26- and 27-point totals he had posted in the past two seasons. You have to wonder if Spezza has another year left in him. Toronto has some younger talent capable of filling his role, but here’s hoping the 2001 second-overall pick gets another shot to hit 600.
Wins – Carey Price, two wins to 350 (fourth among active goaltenders)
Price hasn’t always had top-tier lineups in front of him, but he’s made his mark as one of the best goaltenders in Canadiens history. Of course, the 2019-20 season has been a tough one for the Habs and Price had an ugly 1-3-1 record in his past five starts, but it’s hard for him to shoulder the blame when Charlie Lindgren, Keith Kinkaid and Cayden Primeau combined for four wins over 14 total games. Assuming the regular season is over and Montreal turns its focus to 2020-21, Price should hit 350 rather quickly. Unrelated: Detroit’s Jimmy Howard started the season needing just six victories to hit 250 – but 27 games later, Howard still needs…four more. Ouch.
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