Alex Ovechkin sets his sights on Wayne Gretzky's regular-season goals record

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Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) sits on the sideline during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers, Monday, April 1, 2019, in Sunrise, Fla. The Panthers won 5-3. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) sits on the sideline during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers, Monday, April 1, 2019, in Sunrise, Fla. The Panthers won 5-3. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

“The Great Eight” wants a piece of “The Great One,” and it appears that he may be able to get it.

Wayne Gretzky currently holds dozens of NHL records, many of which are basically untouchable. Take the 215 points that he recorded in the 1995-96 season, for example.

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Nikita Kucherov, who is currently sitting at 125 points on the season, is the first to hit that mark since Joe Thornton did it with the Bruins and Sharks in 2005-06. And while Kucherov’s incredible campaign is nothing to scoff at, he’s still 90 points shy of Gretzky’s incredible regular-season record.

There’s a reason why Gretzky is considered the greatest to ever play the game, but of all of his godly records, there’s one that may be in jeopardy.

With an eighth Rocket Richard Trophy well within his grasp — thanks to yet another 50-goal season in 2018-19— Ovechkin potentially finds himself within striking distance of Gretzky’s single-season record for goals scored.

The Capitals sniper currently sits at 658 goals over 14 NHL seasons, leaving him 237 twine-ticklers shy of Gretzky’s record. Ovechkin knows that the stars will have to perfectly align in order to catch Gretzky, but that doesn’t mean the Washington captain isn’t up for the challenge.

"I have to be healthy. I have to be in good shape," Ovechkin shared with NHL.com. "I'm going to try to do it, but you don't know what's going to happen in the future."

He’s not exactly brimming with confidence, but Ovechkin seems to have changed his tune on the subject. No more than two seasons ago, the 33-year-old Russian wasted little time in dismissing any suggestion that he could top Gretzky’s record.

"I don't think that's possible," said Ovechkin in 2017. "I talked to Wayne and I don't think those records can be beaten, ever."

Ovechkin has averaged 47 goals per season throughout his 14-year career. With that in mind, he’d need to play five more seasons, scoring at least 47 goals per campaign, in order to have a shot at catching Gretzky’s record. That means Ovechkin would have to continue to score at this rate until his 39th birthday.

If he can extend his career into his 40s, Ovechkin has an even better chance at catching Gretzky. But he’s absolutely right: Ovechkin would have to stay healthy and remain in good shape in order to pull this off within the next five seasons or so.

But when it comes to Ovechkin scoring goals, it’s pretty tough to bet against the Capitals captain.

Remember when he followed up a 50-goal campaign in 2015-16 with just 33 the next season and everyone thought he was washed up? He’s scored no less than 49 goals in every season since, and with another 50-goal campaign under his belt in 2019, he doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.

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