Alexander Ovechkin is still one of the best players in hockey and the all time great is not only fighting for a 2nd Stanley Cup championship, he’s also fighting to break a record that would nearly put him in the top 5 players to ever play the game. Wayne Gretzky’s goals record has lasted since October 15th, 1989 when he had 802 goals, an NHL record and he finished his career with 894 goals. Ovechkin currently sits at 759 goals at 36 years old. To me, he is considered the greatest goal scorer to ever play. But will he actually break Gretzky’s record by the time he retires. Well, I think he will but do the stats say he will?
Something that will put an asterisk on this goals record is Ovechkin comes a couple goals short and it would because of less games due to COVID-19. Now, I’m not saying Ovechkin wasn’t going to miss any games due to injury but the chart below explains how much time the Great 8 missed.
2021 Season Stats:
Games Played Out of % Without COVID In 45 Games AVG Goals Per Game
45 56 80.3571 82 Games 24 Goals 0.53
If there were 82 games and repeated his last season success:
69 82 80.3571 82 Games 37 Goals (82) 0.53
His goal increase would of gone up 13 goals if he missed no more time that season but played the 82 games that would’ve happened without COVID-19 kicking in and messing things up. Just to note, the majority of the 11 games Ovechkin missed in the 2021 season were from COVID protocol so he missed even more time because of COVID. Just something to think about. This also isn’t including the games he missed in the 2020 season due to COVID. The goals he missed out on is below in the chart.
Games Played Out of % Without COVID In 68 Games AVG Goals Per Game
68 69 98.5507 82 Games 48 Goals 0.705
If there were 82 games and repeated his last season success:
81 82 98.5507 82 Games 57 Goals 0.705
So if he continued at the same rate, missed the same time he would have missed, but in an 82 game season, Ovechkin would of had 24 more goals, putting his total right now at 783 goals. Below are Ovechkin’s stats this season.
Bold = league leader
Games Played Goals AVG Goals Per Game Missed Games % Shots Shot Percentage
45 29 0.644 0 100 208 13.9
He’s having a great season. He’s on pace for 53 goals which would be tied for the 3rd most goals he’s ever gotten in season. He seems not to slow down. And that is the main point in all of this. Can Ovechkin continue scoring at a high rate? Gretzky retired at 38 years old and played 1,487 games. Ovechkin is 36 and has played 1,242 games. Good news for Ovechkin is that Gretzky slowed down much faster than Ovechkin will. The Great One only put up 22 goals in 81 games when he was 36 years old. Ovechkin already has 29 goals since he turned 36. Ovechkin also puts up more shots at a more significant rate. Ovechkin has 5935 shots in his career and Gretzky had 5088. Ovechkin has also played 2 and a half less seasons. There is a lot to break down here but the point is, if Ovechkin can keep getting shots on net, with his powerful shot that is so hard to stop, he might have a chance to break the record considering when Gretzky slowed down. The Great One had 833 goals in the same amount of games that Ovechkin has played. So Ovechkin’s 759 goals is 74 less than Gretzky’s through the same amount of games. This doesn’t keep him out of it though.
The thing is, Gretzky’s career is and has been over for a while so who cares what he did. What does Ovechkin have to do? Well, Ovechkin needs to score 135 goals by the time his career ends. If he hangs up the skates in the exact same amount of games that Gretzky did, he would need to average 0.55102041 goals per game which isn’t that unrealistic since he’s averaging 0.644 goals per game this season. So if his goals per game rate doesn’t go down almost 9 and a half percent, there is a good chance he will break the record in the same amount of games that Gretzky got 894 goals. But, how does Ovechkin’s goals per game rate drop? I did research on every 2 seasons (not including this season) and Ovechkin’s drop off or jump up in goals per game. This ended up being what it looked like:
2005-06 – 2006-07 – -0.0809997 from 2005-06 – 2006-07
2007-08 – 2008-09 – -0.08382217 from 2007-08 – 2008-09
2009-10 – 2010-11 – -0.28938115 from 2009-10 – 2010-11
2011-12 – 2012-13 – +0.17948718 from 2011-12 – 2012-13
2013-14 – 2014-15 – +0.00047484 from 2013-14 – 2014-15
2015-16 – 2016-17 – -0.23047237 from 2015-16 – 2016-17
2017-18 – 2018-19 – +0.03206865 from 2017-18 – 2018-19
2019-20 – 2020-21 – -0.17254902 from 2019-20 – 2020-21
62.5% of the time Ovechkin had a drop off in goals per game based on the sample frame from that season. If you average out his total drop off per season when he does drop off, it’s a 17.14% differential. That is more than 9.5. However, 2 seasons that really hurt him the most was the difference between 2009-10 and 2010-11. It was over a 28.9% drop off. However, this was because of how good of a season Ovechkin produced in 2009-10. The Great 8 finished that year with 50 goals, 59 assists, 109 points and won the Ted Lindsay Award for the 3rd straight season. So, yes, an 85 point season and a 32 goals isn’t the best to his standards but it wouldn’t have been as high of a drop off without Ovechkin’s success the previous season. But 37.5% of the time, Ovechkin’s average goals per game increased, especially in the last 6 and 4 of the sections above. If Ovechkin has 1 of those seasons and doesn’t have a terrible drop off in another one, then he should be good to break Gretzky’s record. Ovechkin is starting to pass the puck more than usual though. He has the same amount of assists as goals this season. As long as Ovechkin is getting the puck in the net a good amount of times, he should be in good shape.
If he stays healthy, age doesn’t bring him down a dramatic amount, the NHL doesn’t shut down again or a lockout happens, Ovechkin will break the record according to stats. A couple of years ago, Ovechkin said he will play until he breaks the record but that was before he had a 2nd kid and COVID happened. Even Wayne Gretzky thinks he’ll break the goals record. Now, no matter what, Gretzky will always be a better all time player than Ovechkin since no one will ever be a better hockey player than Gretzky was. But if you look at goals, Gretzky more than doubling the assists record might take his goals record away since he was passing the puck. Both players are exceptional and are the top 2 goal scorers to ever play the game. As a die hard Ovechkin and Washington Capitals fan, of course I going to think he is going to break the record. A lot of crazy things happen in hockey. The stats say there could be a new record holder as for all time goals by the time the Great 8’s career ends. To me, I think so too. Because, Ovechkin’s powerful, hard, accurate shot that no one has been able to stop will just continue. Who know’s if Ovie will be the next Gretzky being talked about for goals 20 years from now!
Write me in the comments, contact me at chasessportsnews.com/contacts or email me at email@example.com to share your opinion on if you think Ovechkin will break the record!
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