We are so incredibly spoiled.
Sure, it may not always feel like it. Being fans of a DC sports franchise, it’s easy to focus on the dashed hopes and playoff heartaches and many, many disappointments - and perhaps overlook just how lucky we’ve been over the past twelve years. But make no mistake... we are unfathomably, unquestionably spoiled.
We’re spoiled because we have had the great privilege to watch - night after night, game after game, goal after goal - the one-two punch that is Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
We know this, of course, but at times we may not truly appreciate it the way we ought to. Another blistering shot to the back of the net by Ovechkin, another “how did he do that” pass from Backstrom. It is to some extent the norm; we’ve been trained to expect nothing less.
This week, however, we get a chance to appreciate it to its fullest, with these homegrown talents giving us not one but two incredible milestones to celebrate.
For Ovechkin, his 1000th point was (fittingly enough) a goal, at home, on national television, against the Penguins. The sheer perfection of how that played out is a testament to the fact that Ovechkin doesn’t just seek out the spotlight - sometimes the spotlight goes in search of him, the big moments drawn to him like the puck so often is. There’s no question that we are watching one of the greatest goal-scorers to ever play the game, right here in our very own city.
But he hasn’t done it alone - in fact, more often than not those goals are a product of a great pass from Nicklas Backstrom, who (fittingly enough) assisted on that milestone goal for Ovechkin less than a week after reaching a milestone of his own. While Ovechkin’s moment was practically scripted, Backstrom’s was less so, and yet equally perfect nonetheless. His 500th-career assist goes in the books as a helper on the game’s only goal (and one not scored by #8) - a rare moment that was almost entirely his, for once out from behind the shadows of his exuberant Russian cohort.
....not that it allowed him to escape the requisite Ovi-hug of celebration, of course.
Each of these moments, these milestones, speak to just how prolific and consistent both of these relatively young players have been over the course of their careers. Ovechkin became just the 22nd player in NHL history to hit the 1000-point mark before his 12th season is in the books; Backstrom is the first of his draft class (a class that includes guys like Jonathan Toews and Phil Kessel) to pile up 500 assists and has produced helpers at a rate that ranks among the game’s all-time greats.
We don’t need to list off all of the reasons and rankings that make these accomplishments historic in any context, because that list is lengthy (and found in numerous other places). Suffice it to say that what we’re witnessing is rarefied, generational talent, and there’s plenty of data to back that up.
To have them happen within days of each other is in some ways an extra gift for us fans, because it gives us all the more reason to pause and reflect on just what it is we’ve been watching all these years. These two players, opposites in nearly every conceivable way, have collaborated on some of the Caps’ biggest moments and best plays for more than a decade - and we’ve gotten to witness it all close up.
So take a moment to do just that. Take a moment to look at the numbers, watch the highlights, relive the best of the best of the best, and appreciate what we’ve been privy to... because it’s been nothing short of magical.
And it’s not over yet.