Ovechkin focuses on winning the Stanley Cup again, not picking up Howe

Arlington, Virginia – Alex Ovechkin He started his 18th NHL training camp Thursday and didn’t focus on the 21 goals he needed to score to catch Jordy Howe for second place in NHL history, but thought more about how many chances he had to win the Stanley Cup again with the Washington Capitals.

“I am at an age that personal goals are great, but we understand every year [you get closer] “Until the end of your career,” said the 37-year-old striker. So I just want to win. I want to be in the playoffs and fight for the cup.”

The Capitals have qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs for eight consecutive seasons and 14 of the last 15 seasons but have not won a post-season streak since winning the Stanley Cup in 2018. Washington lost to the Florida Panthers in six games in the first round of the Eastern Conference last season, He ended a history-making campaign when Ovechkin tied the NHL record with his ninth season of 50 goals and advanced past Marcel Dion (731), Brett Hall (741) and Jaromer Jäger (766) to climb from seventh to third. List of league goals with 780 behind Wayne Gretzky (894) and Howe (801).

So, while following Howe will be an important story for Ovechkin this season, it’s understandable that his mind is on other things. This starts with helping the capitals get off to a good start to the regular season with the striker Niklas Backstrom (left hip resurfacing surgery) outward indefinitely and forward Tom Wilson (Ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee) until at least December.

“The most important thing is that everyone should be healthy, and we have to do the play-offs,” Ovechkin said. “The first 20 matches are very important so you have to do it [earn] of points, so if you’re going to have some ups and downs during the season, you still have those points. … You don’t want to play only six months. You want to play eight months and play for the cup.”

Ovechkin played a big role in the capitals when he went 17-5-6 while Backstrom missed his first 28 games last season due to his hip. He had 44 points (20 goals, 24 assists) during that period on his way to the finish with 90 points (50 goals, 40 assists), his most since he scored 109 in 2009-10.

Although Ovechkin is a year older than that, Washington will need a similar production of him this season.

“I wouldn’t bet on him,” General Manager Brian McClellan said. “I think he has a strong will and I think he knows what he wants to do and get it done, and usually when he’s in that mood he gets what he wants to get done.”

After spending the summer in his native Russia working with his personal trainer Pavel Burlachenko, Ovechkin reported his training camp in perfect condition for a run into his 10th season of 50 goals, which would break the NHL record he shares with Gretsky and Mike Bussey.

“He looks great,” said coach Peter Laviollette. “You won’t know the difference from what I was when I got here [in 2020] And the way he looked now. Ski test today, got it out of the park and came to camp in good shape. Watching the way it started last year was burning. It’s just a bounty to him and the way he trains and what he puts into it and how much this means to him.”

Ovechkin said he and Burlachenko toyed with his off-season training program a bit this summer but haven’t changed much.

“Obviously every year we try to do something different, something more,” he said. “But for now, I’m very happy with what I look like.”

Ovechkin optimistic about the capitals’ chances after a busy period when they signed Darcy Comber To a five-year contract worth $26.25 million to be the #1 goalkeeper and add strikers Conor Brown (Trade with Ottawa Senators) and Dylan Strom (A one-year, $3.5 million contract signed) to help fill the void left by Backstrom and Wilson’s injuries.

We can’t look forward too much,” Ovechkin said. “Today we finished our ice skating test. That’s a good thing. Tomorrow it’s going to be tough practice, so we’ll start from there.”

After playing against Ovechkin for 10 seasons in the NHL, Kuemper is looking forward to playing with him and getting a front row seat as Howe chases and then scored Gretzky. Ovechkin has four seasons left on a five-year, $47.5 million contract he signed last summer.

“It’s going to be so much fun to be a part of and kind of watch the history unfold,” Comber said. “Just kind of a side story throughout all seasons and watching him chase history would be fun to be a part of.”

defenseman John Carlson He’s used to Ovechkin reaching milestones during his thirteen seasons as a teammate, but admitted that catching Howe, who held the NHL goal record until Gretzky broke it in 1994, would be different.

“Leading the league to score goals year after year is one thing, but now it’s like we’re talking about real things now,” said Carlson. “So, on the one hand, I’m blind and kind of numb to how far he’s gone on that list and how relevant it is. It seems that during the season it’s one thing after the next. Every day is a thing.”

For now, though, Ovechkin is putting aside his thoughts on Howe and the 21 goals he needs to hook him.

He said, “Let’s wait.” “I can’t score 21 goals in one game. I can’t, so let’s wait.”

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