With his two goals yesterday in the Washington Capitals' 3-2 win over the New York Islanders yesterday, superstar Alex Ovechkin tied and surpassed the legendary Gordie Howe on the NHL's all-time playoff goal scoring list. Incidentally, he also passed Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby, but it's probably safe to assume that Sid has some more playoff heroics up his sleeve for the balance of his career.
Ovechkin now has 69 (nice) career playoff goals, good enough for 18th overall in NHL history. He's just one shy of Detroit Red Wings long-time captain Steve Yzerman and is 10 back of 10th place Jean Beliveau. But, if you think Ovechkin is gunning for top spot... well... he's got a tough road ahead of him. That record belongs to The Great One Wayne Gretzky who has a remarkable 122 playoff goals. Second and third place? Just long-time Gretzky teammates Mark Messier and Jari Kurri with 109 and 106 goals respectively. So, while it's unlikely that Ovechkin ever reaches the top of the mountain, it's reasonable to assume that he'll edge into the top 10 at some point over the next few years. Hell... maybe he even goes on a tear this season and is able to crack the top 10?
The thing is, could you imagine if Ovechkin played in the era of Gretzky, Messier, Kurri, Yzerman and these other players at the top of the list? He'd be well over 100 goals by now and there would be honest discussion that he's the greatest playoff goal scorer in NHL history. Of course, you can still make that argument but it's tough to argue with raw facts and black and white numbers. With 7-6 regular season goals and Gretzky's record of 894 firmly in his sights, the argument for Ovi as the NHL's all time greatest goal scorer period can be made... but I'll reserve my praise for when he actually pulls ahead of the Great One. After all, he still has legends like Phil Esposito, Brett Hull and Jaromir Jagr to pass before he can get into Gretzky's territory. That in itself will be no easy feat. But, I tell you one thing... I'd love to see him make a run for it.