Washington Capitals: The 10 Best Alexander Ovechkin Moments

Dave Ungar@@DaveUngar68Correspondent IIISeptember 28, 2012

Washington Capitals: The 10 Best Alexander Ovechkin Moments

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    Even though Alexander Ovechkin has only been in the NHL for seven seasons, the captain of the Washington Capitals is a human highlight reel waiting to happen.

    Rarely in hockey do we see a perfect combination of size, strength, speed and skill such as we do with Ovechkin.

    Since he burst upon the scene for the 2005-2006 season, Ovi has been considered one of, if not, the best players in all the world—and for good reason. He is one of the most deadly snipers in the game, he plays at a breakneck pace and he will absolutely lay out the opposition with a punishing check. He is fearless and is a formidable opponent to say the least.

    The only thing missing from his resume, much to the chagrin of Caps fans everywhere, is a Stanley Cup championship.

    While the current lockout threatens the chances of Ovi winning the Cup this year, one has to figure that with his talent and tenacity, winning a Cup is more a question of when and not if.

    Through 553 regular season games, the Great Eight has scored 339 goals and notched 340 assists. In the playoffs, he has scored 30 goals, with 29 assists, in his 51 playoff games.

    During this time, Ovi has had some truly spectacular moments, some electrifying goals and some plays that will live in the hearts and minds of Caps' fans forever.

    In fact, whittling those moments down to his 10 best is a true chore. My Top 10 list could be very different from yours, although I suspect there would be quite a bit of overlap.

    What follows though are, in my opinion, the Top 10 moments of Alexander Ovechkin's career. Some are in here for historical perspective, some are in here for the sheer magnitude of the performance and some are in here simply based on what I call "Wow" factor.

    So, for your enjoyment here are the Top 10 moments from the career (so far) of Alexander Ovechkin.

10. In the Beginning

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    It is hard to believe that it has been almost seven years since Alexander Ovechkin scored his first goal.

    In his very first game, against the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 5, 2005, Ovi would score two goals as the Caps would beat the Blue Jackets 3-2. It took Ovi all of about 28 minutes to emphatically announce his arrival to the rest of the NHL

    Ovechkin's first tally came at home, with his parents and brother in attendance. For the fans in DC, it was love at first score.

    For Ovechkin though, it was only the beginning.

9. The First Hat Trick

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    A little more than three months after scoring his first career goal, Alex Ovechkin would notch his first career hat trick in a 3-2 overtime win over Anaheim.

    While any hat trick would be a memorable occasion, especially the first one of a player's career, Ovi's first hat trick was even more memorable for several reasons.

    First, it came on the road, a difficult enough task at the best of times.

    Second, it came against Jean-Sebastian Giguere, who was still considered one of the best goalies in the NHL in January of 2006.

    But even more impressive are the quality of the three goals Ovi scored, which represented all of the Caps' scoring for that game.

    The first goal was just a beautiful deke to his backhand side. Giguere never had a chance.

    The second goal is one of Ovi's best, in my opinion. Refusing to be knocked off the puck, Ovechkin skated through the offensive zone, did a 360 degree spin and then blasted the puck by a helpless Giguere.

    The third goal is another thing of beauty as the Great Eight went short side and between the legs of a defender to cap his first career hat trick and to register an overtime game winner for the Caps.

    By the time Ovechkin claimed his first hat trick, it had become apparent that the NHL had a new superstar on its hands.

8. Ovi Scores 4 Against Montreal in 2008

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    The 2007-2008 season was a magical one for Alexander Ovechkin.

    That was the season that the Great Eight was truly great as he scored an astounding 65 goals and had 47 assists. He became the first player to surpass 60 goals in a season in 12 years.

    His four goal eruption against Montreal in January was a microcosm of his 2007-2008 season.

    The man was just unstoppable. Everyone around him seemed to be skating at a speed slower and Ovechkin's dominance of the NHL was something that had not been seen since the days of Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux.

    The four goals in this video are an even better demonstration of the skill set of Ovechkin.

    The first goal is just a nasty one-timer that is going to find the twine probably 90 percent of the time.

    The second goal is just Ovechkin showing off his speed and nose for the net.

    The third goal is vintage Ovi as he skates in, uses the defender as a screen and blasts a shot glove side past a stunned Cristobal Huet.

    The fourth goal is just Ovechkin camping out in front of the net and being opportunistic.

    Once again, Ovi scored the overtime winner—and enhanced his legend in the process.

7. Ovechkins Game Winner Against the Rangers in Game 2 of the 2012 Playoffs

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    Let's fast forward a few years for the No. 7 moment on this list.

    The 2011-2012 season was a difficult one for Ovechkin. His production slipped mightily. While he still scored 38 goals, good enough for fifth in the NHL, his assists absolutely bottomed out as he only had 27. His 65 points were far and away his career low.

    On top of all that, he had to endure a coaching change and significantly reduced ice time during the playoffs.

    But for anyone who may have harbored the delusion that Ovechkin was no longer an elite player, he would remind them of just how dangerous he is in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the top- seeded New York Rangers.

    Trailing in the series 1-0, the Caps had let a 2-0 lead in Game 2 slip away and needed something good to happen or face the prospect of being down in the series 2-0.

    Who should come to the rescue, but the captain of the team. Ovechkin got the puck off the face-off, allowed traffic to develop in front of the net and then unleashed his deadly wrist shot from just inside the blue line.

    Henrik Lundqvist would win the Vezina trophy in 2012. But he never saw Ovi's blistering wrister and the Caps had a huge 3-2 win that would tie the series up.

    Ultimately, the Caps would fall the the Rangers in seven games. But if not for Ovechkin's game winner in Game 2, it is unlikely the series would have lasted anywhere near that long.

6. Did He Really Just Do That? (Part I)

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    At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that some of the goals that are included on this list are here for their "Wow" factor. You watch them, you see what happened and yet you can't help but ask yourself:

    Did he really just do that?

    The goal Ovi scored in February of 2009 against the Montreal Canadiens is one of those moments.

    Most anyone who is a fan of Ovechkin or the Caps has seen this goal countless times and, yet, it never gets old.

    It is a fantastic play from start to finish. Ovechkin backhands the puck off the boards to himself, finishing a 360 degree spin around the defender who has no clue what just happened.

    He then skates in and gets dragged to the ice.

    It doesn't matter though as Ovechkin still puts the puck past a shocked Carey Price who also had to be wondering if Ovechkin really just did that.

    An amazing goal no matter how many times you watch it.

5. Ovi Scores the Series Clincher Against the Rangers in 2011

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    In Game 5 of the 2011 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, the Caps stared their less than stellar playoff history squarely in the face.

    A year earlier, the Caps had been the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and they came home for a Game 5 against the No. 8 seed Montreal Canadiens holding a 3-1 series lead, looking to clinch the series on home ice.

    They came out flat, lost and everything fell apart as the Habs became the first No. 8 seed to ever rally from a 3-1 series deficit to beat a No. 1 seed.

    It was one of the biggest upsets in NHL playoff history.

    A year later, the Caps were again the No. 1 seed and, once again, they held a 3-1 series lead on the No. 8 seed, the New York Rangers.

    If the Caps were going to take the next step as a hockey team, then it was imperative that they put the Rangers away in Game 5.

    Once again, the captain came to the rescue. Ovi's goal in Game 5 was another thing of beauty. Using his speed to exploit a tired Marc Staal, Ovechkin got around the valiant effort of Staal and then, with lightning fast reflexes, he deked Henrik Lundqvist, going forehand to backhand and putting the puck past Lundqvist, top-shelf.

    It remains, so far, Ovechkin's only series clinching goal.

    It was believed that this was the moment that would propel the Caps, as a team, to the next level. But, as we all know, the Caps imploded in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the  Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Still, with so much on the line in Game 5 against the Rangers, and with Ovechkin scoring the series clincher, this moment is a solid choice at No. 5.

4. Ovechkins One Man Effort Against the Rangers in Game 5 of the 2009 Playoffs

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    Here is another of those "Wow" moments.

    Yet again, it is from a Game 5 against the New York Rangers, this time coming in the 2009 Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

    The Caps sat on the brink of being upset by the Rangers. The Caps were the No. 2 seed, yet they trailed the No. 7 seeded Rangers 3-1 in the series as the scene shifted back to Washington for a critical Game 5.

    The Caps came out on fire and buried the Rangers. The icing on this cake was the brilliant goal scored by the Great Eight near the end of the second period.

    Taking advantage of having the last change, then coach Bruce Boudreau was able to get Ovi on the ice for a favorable matchup against the Rangers defense.

    The end result is a thing of beauty as Ovechkin avoids an attempt to check him down, puts the puck between the legs of another helpless defender and then backhands the puck, from his knees no less, past a shocked Henrik Lundqvist.

    It was a huge goal and seemed to infuse the Caps with the momentum they would need to ultimately rally and defeat the Rangers in seven games.

    It is one of the best solo efforts ever in a playoff game and very well might be Ovi's most impressive goal, from a pure skill standpoint, of his playoff career.

3. Did He Really Just Do That? (Part II)

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    Goal of the year?

    This one might just be the greatest goal ever scored.

    Anyone who has followed the NHL since the last lockout has seen Alexander Ovechkin's 32nd goal of the 2005-2006 season probably 100 times since it happened on January 16, 2006 late in the third period of a blowout win against the Phoenix Coyotes.

    Amazing, incredible, stupendous, sensational—insert whatever adjective you want here.

    It is such an iconic moment in Ovi's career that it is known simply as "The Goal".

    It is an unreal combination of stick handling, will, skill and luck.

    Ovechkin scored this goal while lying on his back and without ever even seeing exactly where he was shooting the puck—or perhaps sliding the puck is the better word—was still able to beat Brian Boucher for the goal.

    Boucher would be traded to the Flames two weeks later.

    "The Goal" was so good that even The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, had to watch the instant replay of what the Great Eight had just done.

2. Dueling Hat Tricks with Sid the Kid

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    Back when the NHL was still desperate to recover from the effects of the last lockout, Gary Bettman's biggest wish was for a playoff matchup to take place between the two marquee names in the league, Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Washington's Alexander Ovechkin.

    In 2009, he got his wish. The two superstars delivered the goods—and then some.

    Never was this on display more than in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals when Crosby and Ovechkin played a personal game of one upsmanship as they both registered hat tricks in the Caps 4-3 victory.

    Now I know many of you would rank this moment No. 1 and for very good reason. I would not really dispute you. That is how huge a moment this was and I firmly believe if Ovi could play against Crosby every night, no one would be talking about a decline in his skills.

    This was Ovechkin's first playoff hat trick and it, obviously, could not have come against a better opponent.

    Ovi's three goals in this game are more of what we have seen from him so far in this collection.

    The first two goals are just deadly one-timers from a man who shoots the one-timer as hard and accurately as anyone in the game.

    The third goal is another example of how smoothly and effortlessly Ovi can get up to top speed, use a defender as a screen and just unleash one of the most deadly snap shots in hockey with laser focused accuracy.

    Unfortunately, as we all know, Crosby would get the last laugh as the Pens would win the series in seven titanic games and then would go on to win the Stanley Cup.

    But for one game, there was no doubt at all that Alex Ovechkin was the best player in the world.

1. Ovechkins First Playoff Goal Sinks the Flyers

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    So you might be asking yourself what could possibly top Ovi and Sid the Kid exchanging hat tricks in 2009 as the greatest Ovechkin moment of his career? After all, what could be better than Ovi getting his first playoff hat trick?

    Go back a year to Alexander Ovechkin's first ever playoff game and you will get the answer.

    The Caps made an improbable return to the NHL playoffs in 2008 surging at just the right time to capture the Southeast division crown by winning 11 of their final 12 regular season games and grabbing the title on the last day of the season.

    They would face the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, an old foe and nemesis from playoff runs in the past.

    Ovechkin's first playoff game did not start so well as the Caps faced a 4-2 deficit entering the third period.

    But two Mike Green goals set the stage for what, in my opinion, is the greatest moment of the Great Eight's young career thus far.

    Why do I think this? There are several reasons. It was Ovechkin's first ever playoff game and instead of wilting under the pressure, he rose above it and delivered at the most crucial moment.

    There are so many things going on with this one goal. It capped a furious rally, it was Ovi's first career playoff goal and his effort on the play is nothing short of outstanding.

    Ovechkin's individual effort and will to win was never on display quite like this. He made a great play on the puck not once but twice to gain position on Martin Biron. He then demonstrated tremendous patience by making Biron commit before he fired the game-winning goal past him.

    On top of that, Ovi's celebration, combined with the call of the goal, combined with the crowd's thunderous reaction—it all adds up to the best moment of Alexander Ovechkin's career.