Jaromir Jagr

Alex Ovechkin scores 700th goal with a blast

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He did it. Alex Ovechkin scored his 700th career goal on Saturday as the Capitals faced the Devils.

Ovechkin scored his historic goal from the opposite faceoff circle from his typical “office.” It was a significant goal, tying Washington 2-2 with New Jersey a few minutes into the third period. Ovechkin reaching his 700th goal with such gusto really adds to the experience.

(Watch video of Ovechkin scoring his 700th goal in the video above.)

Ovechkin makes history with 700th goal

It marks his second goal in as many games after sitting at 698 goals for five agonizing contests. Well, they were agonizing for those anxiously awaiting number 700. Ovechkin’s response was basically “Whatever.” Ovechkin scored 30 of his 700 career goals against the Devils.

Ovechkin joins an illustrious group including Wayne Gretzky (894), Gordie Howe (801), Jaromir Jagr (766), Brett Hull (741), Marcel Dionne (731), Phil Esposito (717) and Mike Gartner (708). Ovechkin became the second player to score 700+ goals with a single team, as Howe scored 786 with the Red Wings before continuing a hockey journey that eventually included playing alongside his sons.

Jagr was the most recent player to reach 700 on March 1, 2014.

Ovechkin scored goal No. 699 in an OT loss to the Canadiens after five straight games without a point. No. 8 controlled a rolling puck after Nicklas Backstrom won a faceoff cleanly in the offensive zone, then fired a wrist shot past Carey Price.

Ovechkin, 34, became the second youngest and fastest player (1144 games) to score 700 goals, trailing Gretzky who was 29 years old (886 games) when he scored his 700th in January 1991 as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.

Earlier this month, Ovi also became only the second player to score 40 goals in 11 seasons, trailing Gretzky’s record of 12. Ovechkin now has 42 goals in 60 games this season, giving himself a shot at another Maurice Richard Trophy.

The Devils ended up beating the Capitals 3-2. Maybe Washington can get back on track now that Ovechkin got this 700th goal out of the way? Their struggles aren’t on Ovechkin, but the Caps are struggling as a team nonetheless. (They have to be pleased with Pittsburgh losing to the Sabres on Saturday, though.)

Ovechkin’s quest for 700th goal:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Morning Skate: Protecting Pettersson; more on Zucker trade

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Ken Campbell nails it in discussing the abuse thrown Elias Pettersson‘s way. Really, it applies not only to protecting Pettersson, but all star players. (The Hockey News)

• The Sedin Twins understand what Pettersson is going through. Unfortunately, their advice boils down to “you just gotta deal with it.” (Vancouver is Awesome)

• Believe it or not, the Sedin twins are still close friends. Who would have thought? (Although twins could get tired of each other, theoretically, so maybe it is impressive …) (Sportsnet)

• Need a connection between the NHL and the inescapable Coronavirus? Apparently the crisis is affecting the supply of sticks. Imagine a scenario where crusty hockey people live their random dream of wooden sticks making a brief comeback … (Boston Globe)

• Oilers fans winced at Connor McDavid hurting his knee. If they (and fans of the sport in general) want a slight silver lining, consider that McDavid claims it’s not related to his off-season injury. (Sportsnet)

• Mathieu Schneider came away from meetings regarding an Olympic return feeling “happy” from the NHLPA perspective. That might be a moot point if the league remains cool to the premise of participating in 2022, but it’s better than nothing. (TSN)

[NHL ON NBCSN: Ovechkin continues chase for 700 Thursday vs. Avalanche]

• During much of the season, the Penguins persisted with strong puck possession stats despite injuries. Adam Gretz details some discouraging recent trends, though. Then again, maybe generally defensively sound winger Jason Zucker could help a bit in that regard? (Pensburgh)

• Calen Addison ranks as one of the Wild’s most important returns in the Zucker trade. Corey Pronman breaks down what Minnesota is getting in the defensive prospect. (The Athletic, sub required)

• It’s tough to wrap your head around the idea of the Rangers actually buying out Henrik Lundqvist. Granted, that might be a pretty practical way to keep two younger goalie options. Blue Seat Blogs explains the potential pros and cons of such a buyout. (Blue Seat Blogs)

• Why the Maple Leafs should trade Tyson Barrie. (The Leafs Nation)

• Scroll through this interesting thread about how the 2012 NHL Draft ranks among the worst. Maybe the Blue Jackets were reasonable in rejecting the Islanders’ entire 2012 stock when Garth Snow came calling for Ryan Murray? (Benjamin Wendorf)

• Jaromir Jagr and Gordie Howe: two peas in a pod. (Featurd)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Can Alex Ovechkin break Wayne Gretzky’s record of 894 goals?

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GR8NESS: OVI’S CHASE FOR 700: As Alex Ovechkin approaches 700 career NHL goals, PHT is going to examine all aspects of his goal-scoring prowess. We’ll break down and provide context for his amazing stats, project if he can top Wayne Gretzky’s record of 894, and take a look at his most important goals.

For years, it felt like an impossible task, even for Alex Ovechkin.

Could Ovechkin really do it? Could Ovechkin really break Wayne Gretzky’s NHL-record of 894 goals?

Now that Ovechkin stands a stride away from 700 at 698, the question feels far less absurd. Yet, when numbers pile up, it’s easy to forget that it’s a lot to ask of a 34-year-old: score 200 additional goals. Er, it’s a lot to ask of a human. But what about the Russian Machine Who Never Breaks?

Collecting the Ovechkin – Gretzky projections

As of Sunday, Ovechkin sits at 40 goals in 2019-20, and (again) 698 overall. The Capitals have already played 55 regular-season games, giving them 27 more.

At Ovechkin’s current (.74 goals per game) pace, he’d finish 2019-20 with 60 goals. Calming things down to “just” his outrageous career average (.691), he’d end up with 56 or 57. If healthy, it’s easy to imagine at least 50 goals overall.

While it’s interesting to ponder this season, what about the future? In projecting toward 894+ goals from 698, I threw out a wide net to include:

This chart collects those projections, keying on guesses for 2020-21 and beyond:

Season  Hockey Graphs  Buccigross  Dom L early  Dom L recent  Actual
2019-20 45 40 44 59 40 (and counting)
2020-21 38 37 42 50 ?
2021-22 41 32 37 47 ?
2022-23 38 40 32 43 ?
2023-24 34 32 28 38 ?
2024-25 34 28 24 33 ?
2025-26 29 27 20 27 ?
2026-27 ? ? 16 21 ?
2020-21 to end 214 196 199 259 ?

Add 698 with whatever you expect from the rest of 2019-20 to those totals and … it sure looks like Ovechkin has a real chance. Those older projections end at 2025-26, too, possibly making them too pessimistic.

Then again, what about other factors like, say, chicken parm?

Ovechkin vs. Father Time

Honestly, it’s already amazing that Ovechkin has avoided injuries so frequently.

Just compare Ovechkin with Sidney Crosby, his eternal (narrative) rival. They both entered the NHL in 2005-06, yet Ovechkin has played in 1,138 regular-season games versus 969 for Crosby.

Ovechkin almost taunts fate with his style, too. Yahoo places Ovechkin at 5,485 hits since 2009-10, and he certainly wasn’t a wallflower before then. Combine those collisions with hits taken and blocked shots and Ovechkin continues to marvel.

What if that luck runs out, though? Ovechkin parallels Jaromir Jagr in several ways, including as a superstar who went from scapegoat as a youngster to beloved as an elder statesman.

On the other hand, Jagr extended his career by simply being hungrier than others; stories of workouts with weighted vests now feel like Bunyanesque legends. With Ovechkin, it’s tough to shake the (admittedly funny) stories about his hunger … for chicken parm.

Brooks Orpik provided a vivid account in The Players’ Tribune in 2018:

Ovi always orders the same thing — Mama Lucia, which is this pasta dish that’s like chicken parm with noodles, bread, cheese, the kind of thing you want to take a five-hour nap after eating. He makes a big display of it too. There’s no shame. It’ll be eleven in the morning, way before anyone is really thinking about eating lunch, and Ovi will walk into the dining area yelling, “Mama Lucia! Mama Lucia!” I don’t know. It’s weird, but it seems normal now.

Look, Ovechkin burns off those chicken parm calories, and then some. Still, it might not be unfair to wonder: if Father Time beats Ovechkin before he hits 894, will Mama Lucia deserve a primary assist?

Factors beyond aging and injuries

Consider some other obstacles, likely or not:

  • Ovechkin’s contract (approx. $9.54M AAV) ends after 2020-21. What if he wants (a lot) more from the potentially cap-strapped Caps?
  • Also consider that Ovechkin could eventually take as much away from the table as he brings to it. Evolving Hockey spurred recent debates about Ovechkin’s overall impact already, and such discussions might only get more uncomfortable considering charts like these:

What if the Capitals conclude that they’re more likely to contend without Ovechkin, at least at the price he’s likely to command?

That’s not much of a worry now, of course. It could, however, be a tougher call when Ovechkin pushes 40. What if physical decline sneaks up on Ovechkin like some rising star wrecking Jagr during the 2010 Olympics?

So, can Ovechkin pass Gretzky?

Only a fool would dismiss Ovechkin’s chances. When Ovechkin chased numbers before, he almost always reached his goals. And he’s admitted that 894 goals ranks somewhere on his “To-do list.”

That said, it won’t be easy if everything goes as planned, and life rarely goes as planned.

You can catch Ovechkin’s pursuit of 700 goals when the Capitals host the Islanders Monday at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

MORE:
By the Numbers: Ovechkin’s 698 NHL goals
Stunning Numbers as Alex Ovechkin closes in on 700 goals
My Favorite Goal: Ovechkin scores ‘The Goal’ as a rookie in 2006
Crosby, Kane, Ovechkin highlight NHL’s All-Decade Team

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Huberdeau sets Panthers record; Malkin ties Jagr for Penguins mark

Jonathan Huberdeau #11 of the Florida Panthers celebrates
Getty Images

Jonathan Huberdeau surpassed Olli Jokinen for the most points in Florida Panthers history Sunday with a goal and an assist in Florida’s 8-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The 26-year-old from Saint-Jerome, Quebec has recorded 420 points (143 goals, 277 assists) in 512 games as a member of the Panthers.

Florida selected Huberdeau with the third-overall selection of the 2011 NHL draft after the forward played for the Saint John Sea Dogs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Huberdeau set the record with an assist on Mike Hoffman’s power-play goal early in the third period. He also added a goal of his own midway through the second period when he made a nifty move to his backhand to beat Michael Hutchinson.

He currently leads the team with 61 points and is on pace to surpass his career high of 92 points set last season.

Malkin Passes Jagr

The Penguins alternate captain did not wait long to pass Jaromir Jagr’s 640 assists on the franchise’s all-time list. He tied the mark Friday against Colorado and hit 642 assists by recording two Sunday as the Penguins collected their third straight victory on the road in an eight-round shootout win against the Arizona Coyotes.

Malkin officially passed Jagr with the secondary assist on Jared McCann’s opening goal. He would later set up Patric Hornqvist early in the middle frame when the Penguins took a 2-1 lead.

PHT Morning Skate: Delicate line for NHL coaches; Sabres headed for collapse?

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• The Devils discuss why John Hynes was fired, and the tone is pretty close to the opposite of how people discussed coaches like Mike Babcock once he was out the door. Taylor Hall talks up Hynes’ role in Hall winning a Hart Trophy, saying “I have a pretty cool trophy at home that I think he had a part in.” (The Trentonian)

• Kings coach Todd McLellan has been around, including working with Mike Babcock in Detroit. He has some interesting insight on how “delicate” it can be to motivate players without crossing the line, and compares it to how discipline has changed at elementary schools. “Ears aren’t pulled. You don’t go to the principal’s office to see or get the strap.” (Los Angeles Times)

• John Tortorella didn’t comment, but plenty of players from his various stops discuss his methods, with the overriding message being that he doesn’t cross the line. (The Athletic [$])

• A hand injury will likely keep Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon out at least a couple weeks. (Star-Tribune)

• In taking a deep dive regarding the Sabres’ underlying numbers, Travis Yost wonders if another collapse is looming. (Buffalo News)

• Manon Rhéaume, the first woman to play in the NHL, will be honored with a statue outside Quebec City’s Videotron Centre. [CBC]

• An in-depth breakdown of the Blues’ “Enter the Zone,” predictive gaming platform, which “offered a glimpse of the future of wagering on professional hockey.” (ESPN)

• Sonny Sachdeva wonders if Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl could actually maintain their paces at around 140 points, and compares their starts to some of the hottest stretches from the likes of Jaromir Jagr and Sidney Crosby. (Sportsnet)

• How defensemen are evolving to impact games more at 5-on-5 than on the power play. (Rotoworld)

• People might snicker at Alex Burrows making the Ring of Honour, or sneer at his agitating days, but Daniel Wagner explains that you won’t understand Burrows if you aren’t a fan of the Canucks. (Vancouver Courier/Pass it to Bulis)

• When will the Blackhawks break out of their current trend of mediocrity? (Second City Hockey)

• The second tier of pending free agents who might get big raises, from Jake Muzzin to Evgenii Dadonov. (Sporting News)

• There are some interesting photo choices in the latest edition of the Upper Deck hockey card series. [Puck Junk]

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.