Photo: Sporting News
The 32-year old led the league in goals with 49 and the Capitals with 87 points. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after leading the league with 15 goals and was second with 27 points. Teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov led the league with 32 points during the playoffs.
“With every other series’ loss in the playoffs, there were more and more bad feelings [I can’t get the Cup]. But the dream was alive, I worked on it, and when you get to the goal you get some new goals. And I’ll work on them too,” Ovechkin said.
Ovechkin said that he called Trotz after he resigned from the Capitals’ head coaching job to thank him. During his tenure with the Capitals, Trotz led the Capitals to three division titles, two Presidents’ Trophies, and the franchise’s first Stanley Cup this past season. Ovechkin won the Rocket Richard Trophy, given to the league’s goal-scoring leader during the regular season, three out of four years under Trotz.
“I called Barry and thanked him for his work. We had some good times, had some bad ones, but the main thing is we finally won the Cup. I was surprised he left the team. But it’s business. And you have to be ready to changes,” Ovechkin said.
Ovechkin told Eronko that the feeling he got from finally getting past the Pittsburgh Penguins said it wasn’t about that as much as it was getting past the second round, somewhere he had not been able to do prior to 2017-18.
“It wasn’t like ‘Finally we beat the Pens’. It was: ‘Finally we got to the third round’. We lost in the playoffs not only to Pittsburgh, loss to Montreal is also memorable. But when we got past Pens, we just walked to the Stanley Cup. And it was a glorious road,” he said.
He was also asked if he could match Wayne Gretzky’s goal record. Gretzky scored 894 goals during his NHL career, 93 more than Gordie Howe, who is second behind Gretzky on the all-time goal-scoring list. Ovechkin is currently 19th on that list with 607, one goal away from tying former-Capital Dino Cicarelli for 18th and three away from tying Bobby Hull for 17th.
“I don’t think it’s possible to beat that record. You have to play ’til you’re 60. Jagr tried but couldn’t. Hockey isn’t the same. Everything is much more difficult now. To beat the record I have to score 50 each year. It’s hard,” he said when asked about matching Gretzky’s goal record.
But who knows? He always proves people, including himself, wrong when they start to doubt him.
By Harrison Brown
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