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Ovechkin’s former coach says it’s only a matter of time before “Russian Machine” breaks Gretzky’s goal-scoring record

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Bruce Boudreau has seen Alex Ovechkin rating a number of targets in a number of other ways. However the way in which during which Ovechkin is scoring now’s completely different than something Boudreau has ever seen.

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It’s not that Ovechkin has found one thing new. It’s that he’s deserted one thing outdated. Of his league-leading 11 targets in 12 video games, none have come whereas parked in his standard workplace on the left aspect of the face-off-circle.

“You don’t see the one-timer anymore,” stated Boudreau, who coached Ovechkin for 5 of his most-productive seasons within the NHL, and is now a part of the printed workforce for NBC Sports activities Washington. “I watch each recreation. He’s driving to the web for targets, he’s scoring off the wing, he’s banging in pucks. He had two ideas for targets yesterday — one went off (Tom) Wilson.

“What I don’t discover is the nice shot off the wing. That was an on a regular basis factor for him, however it’s been taken away so he goes deeper off the left put up or proper put up. He strikes out and in. He does all these issues to create new issues. He’s a a lot smarter participant offensively after I had him. He amazes me daily.”

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That’s saying quite a bit. You’d suppose by now that we’d seen every thing out of Ovechkin and that we’d run out of how to speak about him scoring targets. In any case, this can be a participant who scored 65 targets in a season, who has gained 9 Rocket Richard Trophies, and who as soon as scored a objective so whereas sliding headfirst on his again.

However what we’re seeing now is just not solely distinctive — it’s additionally part of historical past.

With a objective in Monday evening’s 5-3 win in opposition to the Buffalo Sabres, Ovechkin is now tied with Brett Hull for fourth on the all-time record with 741 targets in 1,209 video games. Subsequent up is Jaromir Jagr (766 targets), whom Ovechkin ought to move earlier than the tip of the season, then Gordie Howe (801 targets) after which, after all, Wayne Gretzky (894 targets).

And whereas Ovechkin informed reporters, “let’s not bounce forward,” Boudreau believes it’s only a matter of time earlier than Ovechkin will get topped because the NHL’s all-time biggest scorer.

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“He’s 36 and I believe he can do that till he’s 41,” stated Boudreau. “I believe that’s what it’s going to take to interrupt Gretzky. Alex is a kind of man that in case you inform him he can’t do it, he’s going to be much more decided to do it. That’ s why we known as him the Russian machine. He gained’t cease.

Overlook about stopping, Father Time can’t even handle to decelerate Ovechkin. Nobody can.

As of Tuesday, he ranked third in scoring with 21 factors in 12 video games — two again of Leon Draisaitl and one behind Connor McDavid. Throughout that span, Ovechkin has been held off the scoresheet simply as soon as and gone solely two video games with no objective. Much more spectacular is that 9 of his 11 targets have come away from the facility play, the place Ovechkin has sometimes finished his most harm.

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That, together with a plus-9 score, is an indication that Ovechkin is concentrating on extra than simply the offence. He’s additionally concentrating on taking part in the appropriate manner, one thing we noticed when he led the Capitals to a championship in 2018.

“When he was younger, it was all about offence,” Boudreau stated. “However you get smarter as you become old. Now, he thinks extra about defence. He is aware of how you can preserve power. He is aware of how you can be the third man excessive. The one factor individuals don’t understand is his hockey I.Q. is off the charts.

“He’s a mixture of every thing we’ve seen. Mario (Lemieux) was simply so huge and proficient and clean. Gretzky had imaginative and prescient. This man is a bull. I’ve by no means seen anybody so pushed and decided as he’s.”

He’s needed to be. Ovechkin’s manufacturing comes at a time when the Capitals have been lacking Nicklas Backstrom, in addition to T.J. Oshie. And but, you wouldn’t comprehend it. Washington is ranked third within the Metropolitan Division, with a 6-2-4 document, all due to Ovechkin.

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“They don’t also have a second line proper now,” Boudreau stated. “When groups have to fret about three strains, he turns into much more harmful. Proper now, you’re game-planning in opposition to Alex — and he’s nonetheless hurting you. Thank god he’s, as a result of Washington wouldn’t be successful video games with out him.”

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So how a lot does Boudreau imagine Ovechkin can rating this 12 months?

“I’d suppose 50 can be a goal,” he stated, considerably conservatively. “He solely wants 39 extra targets and I don’t suppose he’s going to decelerate. He’s so decided. I don’t know what the scoring document is for the oldest participant, however in case you put it in entrance of him, it might be a objective that he would wish to break.

“He needs to be the very best.”

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