Alex Ovechkin says he “couldn’t score 21 goals in a game” when asked if he could catch Gordie Howe this season

Alex Ovechkin is one of the tallest players in NHL history and holds many records. But there is one thing the bold and self-confident goalscorer believes he cannot do at all.

On Thursday, the first day of the Capitals’ training camp, Ovechkin was asked what it would be like to overtake second-seeded Gordie Howe on the NHL’s all-time goals list. Seemingly terrified that he would be asked that question a thousand times over the next few months, the Capitals captain pointed out that he won’t be overtaking Gordie on his own Ovi Way any time soon.

“Let’s wait,” said Ovechkin. “I can’t score 21 goals in one game. I can not.”

Personally, I’m skeptical, but maybe Ovi is right.

While Ovechkin ranks sixth for all-time hat tricks (28), he doesn’t even own the Capitals’ franchise record for most goals in a game. Peter Bondra and Bengt-Ake Gustafsson are the only Capitals players to have scored five goals in one game. However, Ovechkin has scored four different four-goal games.

The record holder for most goals in a game is Joe Malone, who scored seven goals in 1920. Also, 16 is the most goals ever scored by a team in a game, which the Montreal Canadiens did — also in 1920. What a wild year that must have been.

So maybe an Ovechtrick is more realistic.

As for his philosophy regarding the goalscoring record, 37-year-old Ovechkin stressed that while he’s aware of it, he doesn’t focus that far forward.

“It’s always day-to-day,” Ovechkin said. “One cannot be too happy. Today we passed our ice skating test. Hard training tomorrow. That’s where we start.”

Heading into the season, Ovechkin has 780 goals and is 114 behind Wayne Gretzky. If Ovechkin averages 38 goals per season, he will catch The Great One by the end of the 2024/25 season with one year left on his contract.

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Questions have been edited for brevity and clarity.

There have been some pretty substantial changes in the squad, particularly in goal. How do you rate this team’s chances this year?

Alex Ovechkin: Well obviously a few new people come along every year and change everything that happens. This is hockey business. You make friends and it’s hard to see your friends and good players go, but us players, it’s not up to us. We wish everyone the best of luck and I’m looking forward to this year.

How will you deal with not having Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson in the long term?

Alex Ovechkin: They are key players for us, but the characters we have have experience and skill. We will work hard to welcome them and we will play well.

How does working with Darcy Kuemper change the team and what do you think of his game?

Alex Ovechkin: We haven’t played him much, but he’s a Stanley Cup champion from last year. If you have a solid goalie, you have more chances of winning.

How much does winning the championship from last year count?

Alex Ovechkin: It’s always nice to have experienced people on the team. They share their moments because there were a lot of guys there. It’s cool to have someone like that and a player like that on our team.

How was your off-season?

Alex Ovechkin: Off season was good. Spending time with my family, playing soccer, scoring goals, killing a guy! It was fun. It was a great time. Obviously a fast time but nothing you can do. Gladly again. I can’t wait to go.

How was it being back with your kids?

Alex Ovechkin: It was a great time seeing my parents and my friends. went on vacation. We’re having a good time.

Did you do anything differently with Pavel, your coach, in the offseason?

Alex Ovechkin: Not really. Every year we try to do something different, something more. At the moment I’m pretty happy with [how] in shape [I am]. You have to give 100 percent for the training camp.

You had a very good year last year. Will you try to equal or exceed what you have done?

Alex Ovechkin: I’m at an age where personal goals are nice, but I understand every year I start ending careers. I want to win and be in the playoffs and fight for a trophy.

What do you think about the political situation in Russia – there have been protests – and does it bother you at all?

Alex Ovechkin: To be honest from what I heard about it. I will have more information later because there is a time difference. We’ll see what will happen.

Does the goal tally in your head come into the season?

Alex Ovechkin: no It’s always from day to day. There’s not much to look forward to. Today we passed our ice skating test. Hard training tomorrow. From there we start.

After playing so much with Tom Wilson on your opponent’s wing, how is his long-term injury affecting you and who could his replacement be?

Alex Ovechkin: I think that’s a question you need to ask Lavy, who will be our winger. We’re bringing in some new guys who have experience playing right wing/center. It’s a big opportunity for several guys to step up and take a place and show they can play in the NHL.

“Bring me the puck” you should have said.

Alex Ovechkin: If I’m open, yes. [laughs]

Have you taken on more of a mentoring role with some of the younger players?

Alex Ovechkin: Not yet. I have a few more years of contract. I want to end my career with a good degree. Four more years, right? It is a long time. You never know what’s gonna happen.

Is there an urgency to playoff success?

Alex Ovechkin: The most important thing is that everyone is healthy and we reach the playoffs. The first 20 games are very important. You have [to have a good amount of] Points, so if you have ups and downs during the season, you still have those points that you make. You could see last year teams were missing a point, two points. You don’t want to play six months, you want to play eight months and fight for a trophy.

What do you think of Ivan Miroshnichenko, the Capitals’ first-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft?

Alex Ovechkin: Great choice. He’s one of those young players who can be superstar and good. I haven’t spoken to him yet, but I can speak to him anytime. I wish him the best of luck and I hope he will be here next year.

You’re 21 goals by Gordie Howe – the idea that you could be runners-up in league history sometime this year…

Alex Ovechkin: let’s wait I can’t score 21 goals in one game. I can not.

Screenshot courtesy of the Capitals

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