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Making History: Alex Ovechkin Ties “Rocket” Richard

USATSI_9795800_154158418_lowresIt goes without saying that Alex Ovechkin is a generational talent. He proved it again last night, scoring his 544th career goal and notching his 999th career point, thereby matching the goal-scoring total of Maurice “Rocket” Richard.

The goal came in Montreal, which is perhaps fitting. Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals knocked off the Canadiens by a final score of 4-1, with the Great Eight’s goal a third period marker and a heck of a wrist shot past goalie Carey Price.

“It’s nice to be in history, nice to be tied with a legend,” Ovechkin said. “Still have lots of years to go and I’m going to try to do my best.”

It’s all but certain that Ovechkin will make history again and again throughout his career. He’ll have the chance to reach 1,000 points on Wednesday when the Capitals face the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Ovechkin has piled up points like few other players in league history. Nobody has won the “Rocket” Richard Trophy as often as he has. Since its inception in 1998, he’s won it six times.

Arguments can be made as to who the best current player is, with Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby obviously in the conversation.

Crosby is two years younger than Ovechkin and he has 982 points in 740 games, including 364 career goals thus far. Sid the Kid’s best season to date in 2006-2007, when he scored 120 points in 79 games and tabulated 61 points on the power play. In 2009-2010, he scored a career-high 51 points.

Among the active players to reach some serious goal totals, Jaromir Jagr tops out at 756 goals. The 44-year-old has played 1,671 career games to date, however.

Jarome Iginla is also in the picture. He has 616 career goals in 1,513 games and has slowed down as of late, but he’s second to Ovechkin in terms of goal-scoring for the last dozen years.

Ovechkin has 999 points in 879 games, including 544 goals. His best season to date came in 2007-2008, when he scored an incredible 65 goals and tallied 112 points. He scored 22 goals on the power play that season and clocked in a shooting percentage of 14.6 percent.

Of course, Crosby has fallen victim to injury more than Ovechkin and that likely has an impact on the point totals as well.

Historical comparisons are also interesting.

Richard scored 417 goals over the first dozen years of his career and seemed to level off. His best season came in 1944-1945, when he scored 50 goals in 50 games for the Canadiens.

Wayne Gretzky naturally has the historical lead, with 894 goals in 1,487 career games. Gordie Howe is second, with 801 goals in 1,767 NHL games.

If we’re being honest, Ovechkin belongs right alongside these great names. He is as of now the finest goal-scorer of the modern era and he’s also one of the most efficient. He only fell below a 10 percent shooting percentage once (2010-2011) and he’s never failed to score at least 30 goals in a season.

And if we’re still being honest, we need to admit that we’re luck to witness a player like Alex Ovechkin. Night after night, the Russian forward puts on a show that fans – not just fans of the Capitals, but fans of the sport – can appreciate. And night after night, he’ll continue to do just that until he puts the exclamation point on what will be a historical career.

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