The Sideline Observer

Sports and Culture Commentary

The Russian Machine Never Breaks

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Alex Ovechkin is on a hot streak. He recently had a 14-game point streak, won the NHL’s first star of the week, and scored back to back hat tricks in the midst of a Capitals five game winning streak. This recent surge helped him secure the league lead in goals with an incredible 29 goals in 33 games. While these statistics are astounding, numbers like these are nothing new to the Capitals’ Russian left winger.

Ever since the Capitals drafted Alex Ovechkin with the 1st overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, he has been the face of the franchise. Throughout his career, his play has left fans and other players in awe of his ability.

Ovechkin’s trophy case must take up a whole room- he’s won almost every available award. Multiple times. The Calder (rookie of the year), the Art Ross (most points), 3 Hart Trophies (MVP), 3 Ted Lindsay Awards (most outstanding player voted by NHL players), and 7, I repeat: 7, Rocket Richard Trophies (most goals).

Ovechkin has been viewed as one of the most skilled players in the league for his entire career, but in recent years his playoff failures seemed to overshadow his excellence whenever his name was mentioned by analysts or internet commenters.

However, after winning the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy last year, he silenced those critics, and now, we can finally go back to praising his incredible abilities.

These accolades that I just listed could make you think that the hot streak he is on right now is nothing special; however, if you believe that’s the case, you’re so wrong. At 33 years old, Ovechkin’s 14-game point streak is the longest of his career and he is currently on pace to smash his current high for goals in a season with 72 tallies. If any player were to have their prime come at age 33, it would be seen as an incredible feat; but for Ovechkin especially, it almost seems impossible.

During a recent interview on the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast longtime teammate Brooks Orpik, said: “The fact that [Ovi] is moving is incredible. On his diet, I would have been out of the league 15 years ago… He goes through Dr. Pepper and Coke, I mean it’s got to be like four or five a game. Every year, I’m like, ‘alright this has got to be the year he starts slowing down.’ And then, last year, [he had a] hat trick first game and, this year, I think he had two and he was just buzzing around killing everybody.”

On top of his questionable diet, Ovechkin and the rest of the Caps made headlines this summer for doing keg stands out of Lord Stanley and partying for months following his long-awaited Stanley Cup Championship. Analysts predicted a Stanley cup hangover would cause down year from Ovechkin. Boy, were they wrong.

In fact, his incredible start to this season has led to many debates about whether or not he will be able to break Gretzky’s goal record. Gretzky’s 894 career goals have been a benchmark that no one in the league has come close to touching since he set the record during the mid 1990s.

At 636 goals, Ovechkin has a long way to go, but with him not showing any signs of slowing down, breaking the record is feasible. To be fair, it isn’t likely. In order to do so, he would need to average 30 goals a season for the next seven seasons. But Ovechkin has been doing unlikely things his whole career.

If there were any player to break Gretzky’s record, it would be the greatest goal scorer of this generation, and one of the greatest of all time. Father time has not come knocking and who knows if he ever will. As Ovi said in a 2006 interview, “the Russian Machine Never Breaks.”

-Eli

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