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Gretzky weighs in on whether Ovi can catch him


Gretzky weighs in on whether Ovi can catch him

Could Alex the Great ever score as many goals as the Great One?

Wayne Gretzky, who owns the NHL record with 894 goals, told’s Dan Rosen that if any current player can do it, it’s Alex Ovechkin.

Martin Brodeur, who will have his jersey retired tonight in Newark, told over the weekend that the “sky’s the limit” for how many goals Ovechkin can score.

Through 809 games, Ovechkin has 505 goals.

"You know, this is going to sound funny, and I don't mean this to sound egotistical, but the first 500 are the easy ones,” Gretzky told “It's the next 500, when you're getting a little bit older and your body is a little bit worn down, the travel and physical part of the game catches up to you. I always tease my kids, the first 500 is the easy part. You know though, he's got the one thing that you've got to have to get to 894, you've got to have a passion for scoring goals. He has that passion for scoring goals. People don't realize, even as good as you are, you've got to get to those dirty areas and that's how you're going to score goals, and he does that. For me, I knew it was time to retire because my last year I had nine goals. I had a lot of assists (53), but scoring goals as you get older becomes harder because you know how hard it is and how much it hurts to score goals, and you just let your guard down a little bit as you get older.”

Now 30 years old, Ovechkin averages a goal every 1.6 games. If he maintained that pace, it would take him another 623 games to score his 894th goal. Assuming he played every game in every season, that would put him reaching Gretzky’s milestone sometime during the 2022-23 season at the age of 37. But can Ovechkin still be scoring 50 goals a season at the age of 37 or 38? (There’s an excellent statistical piece about Ovechkin’s goal projections here).

“If he can sustain his pace, there's no question in my mind that he has the ability and the talent and the work ethic to be able to do it,” Gretzky said. “And if he does it, I'll be the first guy there to shake his hand. If there is one guy out there that can do it, there's no question it's him. Records are made to be broken. When Gordie (Howe) got to 802, people probably said, 'Nobody will break that.' For me, at 894, someday somebody will come along to break it. You don't know who it's going to be or how long, but that's what sports are all about. Records are made to be broken. Nobody ever thought someone would break Babe Ruth's record, and along came Hank Aaron. Nobody thought Lou Gehrig's record would ever be beaten, and along came Cal Ripken. That's what sports are all about. That's what excites fans. Alex, no question, he brings people out of their seats and he gets fans excited. He's a guy you pay to go watch play, no question about it."

When Brodeur was asked how many goals he thought Ovechkin could end up with, he provided a little seminar on what it’s like to face his shot. Remarkably, Brodeur allowed only seven goals to Ovechkin in their careers.

“He’s definitely going to end up with a lot more than he has now,” Brodeur said. “He’s a special player. Definitely facing him you had to recognize where he was at all times. Even though you knew where he was, he was still going to beat you. Like Brett Hull, for me they’re really similar. (Ovechkin) is probably a lot more dynamic because he’s able to make a lot more individual plays to score goals. But as far as his shooting capacity, he’s always in that soft area. Even though you know he’s there he’s got that shot. The pucks turn. All these Russian guys. Kovy (Ilya Kovalchuk) had the same thing. They have that little toe curve and when they get that shot off, that puck is moving just a little bit and that’s why you see so many pucks just kind of squeaking through goalies, because the pucks are not coming flat. He’s a special player. He’s great for the league. He’s got a great personality and the sky’s the limit. He’s got to stay healthy and he plays the game hard.”

RELATED: Is Johansson ready to return for Capitals?

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Who ya got? Trotz faces tough choice in net after Holtby's strong return

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Who ya got? Trotz faces tough choice in net after Holtby's strong return

Braden Holtby has made Barry Trotz’s weekend very difficult, but in a good way.

Back-to-back games against the New York Islanders offered the Capitals an opportunity to play both Philipp Grubauer and Holtby. Grubauer stayed hot earning another win for Washington. On Friday, Holtby got his first start since March 6 and played very well.

“A win is good,” Holtby said after the game. “I felt pretty comfortable. Some things to build off of and things that I want to get better at. It was a step in the right direction.”


A 22 save effort on Friday was bookended by two big saves. The first shot Holtby faced was a turnover on the power play that led to a dangerous shorthanded scoring opportunity for John Tavares early in the first period. Then in the third, with the Capitals leading 5-3 and the Islanders trying to mount a comeback, Holtby turned aside a breakaway opportunity for star rookie Mathew Barzal.

“I thought he was pretty solid,” Trotz said. “He looked really confident.”

“I felt a lot better,” Holtby said. “Not that I was feeling horrible before, it's just you get refreshed. It's like anything, you have a week off work, a holiday or something, you come back a little refreshed.”

And that brings us to Sunday.

On Sunday, the Capitals play the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers are a team in playoff position in desperate need of points after seven of their last eight games.

When asked on Wednesday who he thought would start Sunday’s game, Trotz said, “We're in a result business and we need some results so we'll see who is looking the sharpest and gives us the best chance to win.”

Both Grubauer and Holtby were impressive in their starts over the Islanders. You can’t argue Holtby is suddenly the hotter hand after one win considering how well Grubauer has played of late, but if Holtby remaisn the team’s No. 1, shouldn’t he get the next start after a strong winning performance?


Trotz was asked after the game who would start on Sunday after Holtby’s win.

“They're both playing well so I can't even answer that right now to be honest with you,” he said. “I do know that we have a number of games this week and whatever way go, obviously I'm going to sit down with the coaches and whatever way we go, I think they're both going to get some time this week.”

“I think you have to take it game-by-game,” Trotz added. “Bottom line is that you've got to make a decision and go with it and if your decision is that goalie A is a little hotter or you've just got a gut feel then you go with it and you have to live with it good or bad.”

So for now, it sounds as if we will see a rotation in net as Trotz continues evaluating which netminder gives the team the best chance to win in the playoffs. It is a tough position for the Caps’ bench boss, but, if both goalies continue to perform, having to choose between a hot Grubauer and a resurgent Holtby is a good problem to have and much preferable to having to choose between backup Grubauer and slumping Holtby.

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Kuznetsov to be evaluated Saturday after leaving Islanders game with "upper body" issue

Kuznetsov to be evaluated Saturday after leaving Islanders game with "upper body" issue

The Capitals may have won the game Friday against the New York Islanders, but now they will wait to see if they also suffered a significant loss.

Kuznetsov left the game in the third period after taking a slash from Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey which sent him sliding head-first into the boards. The team labeled the issue as “upper body” when it was announced he would not return to the game.

Head coach Barry Trotz was tight-lipped afterward on Kuznetsov’s status.

“They're going to re-evaluate him tomorrow and we'll have some clarity hopefully tomorrow,” he said.


You can see the play here:

When Kuznetsov is first slashed he immediately reacts. His feet then catch the stick of goalie Jaroslav Halak which sends him tripping and sliding hard into the boards. He sat on the ice for several minutes afterward and was looked at by the trainer before getting to his feet and slowly making his way to the locker room.

When asked after the game what he felt about the slash, Trotz said only, “Hockey play.”

One of the Capitals’ biggest strengths as a team is their depth down the middle. Any injury to a center, considering it is arguably the most important skating position on the ice, would be significant. An injury to the team’s top-line center would be even more costly.

Kuznetsov leads the team with 28 assists and ranks second in both goals (21) and points (69).