When you look at this picture, what do you see?
10 years ago today. Never forget. pic.twitter.com/dGf0wOAsyY
— Chirp Hard Hockey (@ChirpHard) January 16, 2016
Because you can’t see the puck in that shot, it looks as though it’s just a photo of Alexander Ovechkin being up-ended while on the attack toward the Arizona Coyotes (then the Phoenix Coyotes) net. With most players, that would be about where the play ends, but not for Ovi. Nope, what this photo actually depicts is what will very likely go down as the prettiest goal of the highest-scoring Russian NHLer’s career.
We’ll get to that in a minute. First, let’s flash back to this past Sunday, as the Washington Capitals were hosting the Ottawa Senators in the battle of federal capital cities. Ovechkin had come into the game with 499 career goals, after scoring two the day before (including the OT winner) against the New York Rangers. While I don’t particularly care for either the Capitals (who are on fire right now) or the Senators, I am a fan of the sport, so I still enjoy watching those kinds of games. The fact that there could be a milestone goal only made it that much more interesting.
Throughout the first half of the game, anytime Ovechkin was on the ice, his teammates were throwing the puck to him in hopes of getting him that 500th goal. While the Caps jumped out to a pretty commanding lead on goals from other players, Sens goalie Andrew Hammond just kept slamming the door on every chance Ovi got. Then, with just under 4 minutes to go in the second, he got the look he needed and potted it from high in the faceoff circle. Classic Ovechkin. Have a look:
It was really cool watching this happen live on TV – especially as they kept showing shots of Ovi’s parents in the crowd during the game. So cool that they could be there when their son became only the 43rd player to notch 500 career goals – and get this, the FIFTH fastest player to 500 ever, taking just 801 games to get there. You know, early in his career, I can’t say I cared a ton for Ovechkin… But seeing how he’s evolved over the years as a player, how he’s become more of a 2-way player who isn’t afraid to throw big hits or drop the gloves, it’s kinda hard not to like him just a little bit. Along the way, he has scored his fair share of incredible goals. Probably the craziest – and I’ll be surprised and quite impressed if he can outdo himself with this one – came 10 years ago YESTERDAY, as the Capitals were visiting the Coyotes. Just feast your eyes on this:
Have you ever seen someone score from on their back before? Maybe not before this, but there has been a very similar goal since then.
Alexander Semin must have picked up a few tricks from Ovechkin during their time together with the Capitals. While teams and fans have at times shown disappointment with Semin’s play and production, he has had many flashes of brilliance throughout his career, and this goal from last season may just be the pinnacle of all that. Watch:
It’s crazy though – even with plays like that, the Carolina Hurricanes waived Semin at the end of last season after only two years of his five year contract. The Montreal Canadiens signed him to a one-year deal this past summer. Playing in a reduced role, Semin registered a goal and 4 points in 15 games before being placed on waivers by the Habs too. After going unclaimed, he refused to report to the AHL and sought a contract termination the following day. On December 15th, he returned home to Russia and signed on for the rest of the season with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL… I’d be interested to see if he makes a return to the NHL at all, but wouldn’t be surprised if he did not.
Ovechkin, on the other hand… I don’t see him going anywhere anytime soon… And like Phil Esposito said, he’ll very likely make his way to 600, and maybe even 700. And the way the Caps have been playing lately, they could very well be contenders for the Cup this year… Provided they don’t choke again come playoff time.