The other day, Russia’s all-time leading goal scorer and incoming Hockey Hall of Famer Sergei Fedorov made a long-distance request to Alex Ovechkin, asking him to wait until Tuesday night when the Caps are in Detroit, to pass his record.
Ovechkin, who is two goals away from overtaking Fedorov (483 NHL goals) as the leading Russian goal scorer in NHL history, responded on Saturday morning.
“My plan is to get three tonight, so we’ll see,” said Ovechkin, who has not recorded a hat trick since Dec. 10, 2013 when he scored four goals in a comeback win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“It’s going to be a huge honor, obviously, to pass all the great names in Russian hockey and be No. 1. It’s huge.”
What amazes Capitals coach Barry Trotz is how quickly Ovechkin has climbed Russia’s mountain of goal scorers, one which includes Alexander Mogilny (473), Pavel Bure (437), Alexei Kovalev (430) and Ilya Kovalchuk (417).
It took Fedorov 1,248 games to score 483 NHL goals. Ovechkin has scored 482 goals in 771 games.
“Any time you pass a great player that’s got to be pretty fulfilling,” Trotz said, “but I was looking at the number of games he’s doing it at and it’s crazy that he’s hundreds of games ahead of one of the greatest players who is going into the Hall of Fame (on Monday).
“That’s pretty outstanding and he’s doing it in an era where it’s harder to score. When I see those numbers that’s what blows me away. Knowing how great Sergei was as a player, that’s pretty outstanding.”
Ironically, Ovechkin is approaching Fedorov’s record without the benefit of a power play goal this season. Entering tonight’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Verizon Center (7 p.m., CSN) all seven of his goals this season have come at even strength. After leading the NHL in power-play goals in each of his last three seasons, Ovechkin has failed to score on 15 power-play shots and he has just one power-play assist.
The Caps’ eight power play goals have come from John Carlson (2), T.J. Oshie (2), Nicklas Backstrom (1), Evgeny Kuznetsov (1), Marcus Johansson (1) and Matt Niskanen (1).
“Obviously, we have so many options out there and we have to find the one that’s going to work,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s me or Carly or Osh or Niskanen or whatever. We just have to find the right one and put it in.”
Trotz said the attention Ovechkin draws on the power play is a weapon in itself.
“They always have someone standing next to him and everyone else benefits from him,” Trotz said. “Unselfishly, he’ll stand further away from the net to draw someone away from someone else.
“He doesn’t get frustrated with it, he just gets frustrated if he gets a good look and misses the net or has a goalie down and he doesn’t execute. He’ll take all the shadowing so other people score. Just watch when we score. He’s just as excited if Oshie or Backy scores than if he scores. He doesn’t really care.”
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