Ovechkin focusing on winning Stanley Cup again, not catching Howe

ARLINGTON, Va. — Alex Ovechkin started his 18th NHL coaching camp Thursday not centered on the 21 targets he wishes to attain to catch Gordie Howe for 2d in NHL historical past, however pondering extra concerning the collection of possibilities he has left to win the Stanley Cup once more with the Washington Capitals.

“I’m at the age that personal goals are nice, but we understand every year [you get closer] to the end of your career,” the 37-year-old ahead mentioned. “So I just want to win. I want to be in the playoffs and fight for the Cup.”

The Capitals have certified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for 8 immediately seasons and 14 of the previous 15 however have not received a postseason collection since winning the Stanley Cup in 2018. Washington misplaced to the Florida Panthers in six video games within the Eastern Conference First Round final season, finishing a history-making marketing campaign when Ovechkin tied the NHL report together with his 9th 50-goal season and moved forward of Marcel Dionne (731), Brett Hull (741) and Jaromir Jagr (766) to climb from 7th to 3rd on the League targets listing with 780 at the back of Wayne Gretzky (894) and Howe (801).

So, even though pursuing Howe shall be an important storyline for Ovechkin this season, it is comprehensible that his thoughts is on different issues. That starts with serving to the Capitals get off to a excellent begin to the common season with ahead Nicklas Backstrom (left hip resurfacing surgical treatment) out indefinitely and ahead Tom Wilson (torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee) sidelined till a minimum of December.

“The most important thing is everybody has to be healthy, and we have to make the playoffs,” Ovechkin mentioned. “That first 20 games is very important so you have to [earn] 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 performed a large position within the Capitals going 17-5-6 whilst Backstrom neglected the primary 28 video games final season as a result of his hip. He had 44 issues (20 targets, 24 assists) all through that span on his method to completing with 90 issues (50 targets, 40 assists), his maximum since he had 109 in 2009-10.

Although Ovechkin is a yr older, Washington will want equivalent manufacturing from him this season.

“I wouldn’t bet against him,” basic supervisor Brian MacLellan mentioned. “I think he has a strong will and I think he knows what he wants to do and accomplish, and usually when he’s in that mood he accomplishes what he wants to get done.”

After spending the summer time in his local Russia running together with his private instructor Pavel Burlachenko, Ovechkin reported for coaching camp in top situation to make a run at his tenth 50-goal season, which might damage the NHL report he stocks with Gretzky and Mike Bossy.

“He looks great,” trainer Peter Laviolette mentioned. “You wouldn’t know the difference from when I got here [in 2020] and the way he looked now. The skate test today, he knocks it out of the park and comes into camp in great shape. Watching the way he started last year he was on fire. That is just a credit to him and the way he trains and what he puts into it and how much this means to him.”

Ovechkin mentioned he and Burlachenko tinkered together with his offseason coaching program just a little this summer time however did not trade a lot.

“Obviously, every year we try to do something different, something more,” he mentioned. “But right now, I’m pretty happy what my shape is.”

Ovechkin is positive concerning the Capitals’ possibilities after a hectic offseason once they signed Darcy Kuemper to a five-year, $26.25 million contract to be their No. 1 goalie and added forwards Connor Brown (business with the Ottawa Senators) and Dylan Strome (signed one-year, $3.5 million contract) to lend a hand fill the void created by means of Backstrom’s and Wilson’s accidents.

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

After enjoying in opposition to Ovechkin for 10 NHL seasons, Kuemper is taking a look ahead to enjoying with him and having a front-row seat whilst he chases down Howe after which Gretzky’s report. Ovechkin has four-seasons left on the five-year, $47.5 million contract he signed final summer time.

“It’s going to be so fun to be a part of that and kind of watch history unfold,” Kuemper mentioned. “Kind of just the side story throughout all the seasons and watching him chase down history is going to be fun to be a part of.”

Defenseman John Carlson has grown used to Ovechkin attaining milestones all through his 13 seasons as his teammate, however stated that catching Howe, who held the NHL target report till Gretzky broke it 1994, could be other.

“It’s one thing to lead the league in scoring year after year, but now it’s like we’re talking real stuff now,” Carlson mentioned. “So, on the one hand, I’m kind of blind and numb to just how high on that list he’s gone and how tangible it is. It just seems like during the season that it’s one thing after the next. Every day it’s something.”

For now, even though, Ovechkin is striking apart his ideas about Howe and the 21 targets he must tie him.

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

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