Monday, January 11, 2016

The joy of watching Alex Ovechkin

I learned about number 8 by reading about him months before he stepped foot on the ice for the Washington Capitals. As a long suffering Caps fan, I could not imagine Washington being a destination for a generational player, but that is exactly what Caps fans have witnessed, 10-years of a generational player’s career to become only the 43rd person in NHL history to score 500 goals. From his first two goal, shattered glass game against the Columbus Blue Jackets through his next 498 goals, the joy of watching Alex Ovechkin has never faded.

Ovie’s smash mouth hockey, combined with his sniper’s ability to shoot and score highlight reel goals and his infectious celebrations when he or his teammates scores make him unique. He still draws amazed gasps in my household on a frequent basis. There will never be another Washington Capital like him in my lifetime.

Three of my favorite goals and why:

The goal – because I stood up in the room where I watched that goal saying over and over again “He meant to do that.” That and Wayne Gretzky’s face and slight smile made me optimistic for that generational label.

The February 29, 2009 goal against the Montreal Canadiens – the one where Ovie slid around Roman Hamrlik and bounced the puck back to himself off the wall, caught the puck, and got tripped up by Kyle Chipchura, slide across the ice to chip it past Carey Price. That was the most impressive goal I’ve seen.

#499 – the overtime game winning goal versus the goalie that has been punished the most by Ovie, Henrik Lundqvist (see an Ovie stats article on, had everything. Great saves by both goalie Braden Holtby and blue liner Nate Schmidt and Ovie’s around Holtby’s net, coast-to-coast sprint ending in making a Ryan McDonagh look silly by using him as a screen and getting the puck in the net is vintage Ovie.

In 2010, I took a trip to see the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and watch hockey in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa and got to see Ovie’s appeal to Canadian fans of the game. From his ubiquitous presence in the Hall of Fame for his three trophies at that time – the Richard, the Lester B. Pearson and the Hart – and his world juniors appearance in 2005, where he won the honor of being the best forward is also in Toronto to the Ovechkin jersey appearances in each city I visited, Ovie was everywhere. Most Canadians I talked to wished he played for their team, but one thought Ovie was the best player in the world.

In the Caps game versus Montreal on the 2010 trip, Ovie got two assists and had a monster hit on Hal Gill, the 6’7, 241 lb. defenseman that pushed him into Carey Price’s net. Classic Ovie. I look forward to continued unexpected highlight reel moments from one of the greatest scorers to ever play the game.  

Let’s go Caps!

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