On Saturday afternoon, Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey was half-full. But whenever Alex Ovechkin touched the puck, the crowd, clad in both Devils and Capitals red, gasped thinking history was about to unfold in front of them.
It almost brought a level of intensity to a contest between two teams at opposite ends of the standings... but only when one player had the puck. The game, at times, seemed a bit like an afterthought.
In the end, it kind of was, because Alex Ovechkin scored his 700th career goal.
Plus: See above.
Minus: The Capitals lost to a bad team again and a great moment was sullied. That’s a shame.
More notes on the game:
- Jakub Vrana hasn’t scored in 10 games, and his shots have been dropping off lately, although he does have seven points over that span (all assists, of course). On Saturday, however, Vrana had six attempted shots through two periods, two on goal, and another two that hit the post. The young Czech winger also used his blazing speed to create scoring chances for his teammate, and drew the power play that led to a Capitals’ goal. Even when Vrana is not on the scoreboard, he continues to get better as an overall player.
- The Capitals have struggled with slow starts, and while they hold a solid record when giving up the first goal, the team keeps using early starts as an excuse to limp into the game. That ain’t gonna fly down the stretch. Drink some Monster, play quality hockey and don’t give up breakaways.
- The power play, which had dropped off in recent months, is resurgent. They still struggle with zone entries, particularly against more aggressive penalty-killers (which the Devils are not), but are doing well enough in the faceoff dot to make up for it. The Caps generated nine shots on the man-advantage today, and while only Tom Wilson’s deflection hit the back of the net, the tweaks the team has made seem to finally be bearing fruit.
- Oh, that Ovechkin guy? The Russian sniper scored his 700th marker in his 1,143rd career game, the second-fewest games anyone has ever taken to reach the milestone in NHL history behind only Wayne Gretzky.
- More on Ovechkin: he went from 600 to 700 career goals in just 154 games, the fewest number of contests it has taken a member of that exclusive club to make the jump between the two eye-popping numbers.
- Nick Jensen had an assist on Ovechkin’s historic marker. That is just brilliant.
- Let’s just bask in this Saturn V of a tally, made possible, of course, by Mr. Jensen.
- Cool to see the whole team come onto the ice to celebrate:
- Among players with 700 goals or more goals, Ovechkin has the highest goals-per-game rate of any player over 30 years old (0.58). Ovi likely won’t be able to keep that up forever, but it is still remarkable.
This shows you how impressive it is that Alex Ovechkin is still doing his thing better than ever at 34. (Via NHL PR) pic.twitter.com/sjZJRvYB9S— Chris Gordon (@ByChrisGordon) February 22, 2020
Ovechkin provided an indelible moment in league history. Savor that. Forget the loss. Beat the Penguins on Sunday.