It may have taken a few games but finally, on a Saturday afternoon in New Jersey, Alex Ovechkin did what only seven NHL players accomplished before him: hit the 700-goal milestone .
A one-timer from the faceoff circle — no, not in his usual "office" on the left side — Ovechkin fired the shot past Devils netminder Mackenzie Blackwood to reach the major milestone.
But now that "The Great 8" has reached the lofty mark, and there's still time this season for him to pass Hall of Famers Mike Gartner (708) and Phil Esposito (717), the question on everyone's brain beyond that is: can he catch Wayne Gretzky's all-time record of 894?
"I'm a big believer that records are made to be broken," Gretzky told NHL.com at the All-Star Game, when Ovechkin was eight goals back of 700. "What I accomplished, I'm very proud of. It's hard to do what I did, and it's really hard to do what he's doing now. But there's no question in my mind that he has a real legitimate chance of doing it. The two things that you need; you've got to stay healthy, and he's proven that over his career. He plays hard and he stays healthy. And, secondly, you've got to be on a good team — and he plays on a good team."
Well, if "The Great One" says it can be done, who can disagree, right? However, is it even possible? Can Ovechkin score enough to reach that massive total?
Breaking it down
On Jan. 3, 1991, Gretzky, the then-Los Angeles Kings center, tallied No. 700 in just his 886th game at the age of 29 years and 342 days. Through that goal, he was burying the biscuit at an alarming 0.79 goals-per-games-played and was the fastest and youngest to hit the mark.
Over the course of his 1,487 games stretching across four teams, he potted 894; his last came on March 29, 1999, at Madison Square Garden in front of the New York Rangers faithful. So when he finally hung up his skates a few short weeks later, Gretzky finished his career scoring at a clip of 0.60 G/GP and saw his production drop to 0.32 G/GP for goals 701-894.
In comparison, when Ovechkin was sitting at 698 goals and 1,142 games — No. 699 came on Thursday — he was at 0.61 for his career and is functioning on all cylinders at almost 35 years of age. After all, the Russian machine never breaks, right?