At long last, hockey is almost back! The Capitals begin the 2020 postseason on Aug. 3, nearly five months after the 2019-20 season was initially paused due to the coronavirus. That’s a long time ago. Let’s take a look back at the biggest stories of the 2019-20 season to refresh our memories before the Caps continue their quest for a second Stanley Cup.
Alex Ovechkin joined some elite company this year as he scored his 700th career goal. He is now one of only eight players to reach that milestone. Twelve men have been on the Moon, eight have scored 700 goals.
Ovechkin was having a decent season until about mid-January. That’s when he really turned it on.
In the final three games before the team’s bye week and the all-star break, Ovechkin scored eight goals. In the four games after the break, he had six.
Goal No. 700 came on Feb. 22 against the New Jersey Devils. Evgeny Kuznetsov fed Ovechkin from behind the net and Ovechkin fired a one-timer to beat goalie MacKenzie Blackwood.
Reaching 700 goals is a great accomplishment by itself. Doing it at 34 while showing no signs of aging, however, has led some to wonder if he could perhaps do the unthinkable and challenge Wayne Gretzky’s record of 894.
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"I think he has a good chance to,” T.J. Oshie said at the All-Star Game in St. Louis. “I mean, you look at the pace he's at now, I think it's going to come down to what he wants to do, how long he wants to play. But if he keeps working and stays at the pace he's at, you can look at the numbers, I think he can do it."
"I think if anybody's going to do it, it's obviously him,” Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews said. “He's obviously been around for a while, I've been watching him since I was a kid. He's an amazing player and I think when it's all said and done he could probably break that record. I think it'd be pretty sweet to see."
Ovechkin scored goal No. 700 in career game No. 1,144, the second-fastest to do so in NHL history. Only Gretzky did it faster in just 886 games. Gretzky, however, only had one 40-goal season once he turned 30. He scored 41 goals in 1990-91 at the age of 30 and that would be the last time he would hit that mark.
Gretzky played nine more seasons after he hit 30 from the 1990-91 season to 1998-99. In that time, he scored 217 goals. Since turning 30, Ovechkin already has 231 goals. It should then come as no surprise that no one has ever gone from 600 to 700 goals faster in history. It took Ovechkin just 154 games to do it. Not only is that the fastest ever, but it’s also faster than he went from 500 to 600 (189 games). In fact, only once has Ovechkin gone from one milestone to the other faster in his career, when he went from 100 to 200 goals in just 129 games.
Ovechkin is not going to keep scoring 50 goals forever. At some point, his production will inevitably begin to decline. But if he can stay healthy and as long has his production does not simply fall off a cliff, it is at least possible that he could challenge to break Gretzky’s record.
“It's exciting," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said at the All-Star Game. "It's a testament both to Wayne's record that it seems to have been unapproachable until now and it's a testament to Alex Ovechkin and his amazing career so far and one that we hope continues for a number of years. Obviously his longevity, and he seems to be in great shape, will be a factor as to whether or not he can ultimately achieve that record."
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