Will Alex Ovechkin Score 50 Goals in 50 Games?

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Will Alex Ovechkin Score 50 Goals in 50 Games?
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin has already scored 10 goals, and he's only played 10 games. Not surprisingly, he leads the NHL in goals

Obviously, Ovechkin is scoring 1.00 goals per game at his current pace. Over an 82-game season, that projects to 82 goals, assuming Ovechkin plays every game. A season total of 82 goals would shatter his career high of 65, set during the 2007-08 season. Plus, this eye-popping output would rank as the fifth-highest single-season goal total in NHL history

But before the end of the season, Ovechkin could achieve another significant goal-scoring milestone: He could score 50 goals in 50 games. 

Only a select few have achieved this impressive feat. Check out the following table to view the "50 in 50 Club," with the number of games it took each player to reach 50 goals and their goal total for that season:  

NHL Players Who Have Scored 50 Goals in 50 Games or Less
PLAYER TEAM SEASON 50 GOALS IN? TOTAL
Maurice Richard MON 1944-45 50 Games 50
Mike Bossy NYI 1980-81 50 Games 68
Wayne Gretzky EDM 1981-82 39 Games* 92*
Wayne Gretzky EDM 1983-84 42 Games 87
Wayne Gretzky EDM 1984-85 49 Games 73
Mario Lemieux PIT 1988-89 44 Games 85
Brett Hull STL 1990-91 49 Games 86
Brett Hull STL 1991-92 50 Games 70
*NHL Record

ESPN.com

To say that the members of this elite group were good at scoring goals is to say that the Stanley Cup is a hockey trophy. These five goal scorers are the best the NHL has ever seen.

Ovechkin is on pace to join their ranks. As I said earlier, the Russian sniper is scoring 1.00 goals per game. Over 50 games, that projects to 50 goals. 

But projections generate predictions, not answers. Beyond the statistics and the calculations, one question remains:

Will Ovechkin join the 50 in 50 Club? 

Yes, he will. 

Here are three reasons why: 

  1. Ovechkin is shooting a lot, even for him. 
  2. He benefits from a lethal power play. 
  3. His scoring has been consistent, not streaky. 

Before explaining each of these points, Ovechkin's performance through 10 games supports all three observations, as reflected in his game log: 

Alex Ovechkin's Game-by-Game Scoring & Shooting Stats
GAME OPPONENT G PPG S S%
Oct. 1 Chicago Blackhawks 1 1 9 11.1
Oct. 3 Calgary Flames 2 1 11 18.2
Oct. 5 Dallas Stars 1 1 4 25.0
Oct. 10 Carolina Hurricanes 1 0 8 12.5
Oct. 12 Colorado Avalanche 0 0 6 0.0
Oct. 14 Edmonton Oilers 1 0 4 25.0
Oct. 16 New York Rangers 0 0 8 0.0
Oct. 19 Columbus Blue Jackets 1 1 4 25.0
Oct. 22 Winnipeg Jets 2 0 7 28.6
Oct. 24 Edmonton Oilers 1 0 6 16.7

NHL.com

Now, to dig a little deeper. 

Ovechkin's itchy trigger finger gives him a valuable advantage as he chases history. Ovi is leading the NHL with 67 shots, and his 14.9 shooting percentage is third best among the top 30 players in the NHL. Before Washington's 4-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 24Adam Kimelman of NHL.com delved deeper into Ovechkin's propensity for shooting: 

He's on pace for a career-high 556 shots -- 28 more than his previous high of 528 in 2008-09, and 110 more than the 446 he needed to score 65 in 2007-08. While more shots on goal doesn't automatically equate to more goals, Ovechkin never has been more accurate than he's been this season, with a 14.8 shooting percentage; his previous best was 2007-08, when he scored on 14.6 percent of his shots en route to 65 goals. His career shooting percentage is 12.2.

The power play is another excellent resource in Ovechkin's quest to score 50 in 50. Washington leads the NHL in power-play percentage at 29.7 percent and is tied for second in the league with 11 power-play goals. Ovechkin has four of those markers, tying for the individual lead in power-play goals. Furthermore, Nicklas Backstrom is tied for first in the NHL in power-play assists with six. As long as Ovechkin has his power-play partner by his side, he should continue racking up goals on the man advantage. 

Finally, Ovechkin's consistent goal scoring may hold the key to his search for immortality. Ovechkin has failed to score in only two games thus far while recording only two multigoal games.

And Ovi hasn't even gone berserk yet. He has yet to record a hat trick or compile a three-game stretch where he scores six goals—two things he is fully capable of doing. In fact, during the 2012-13 season, Ovechkin did each of those things at least once. Such a goal-scoring display would do more than simply help Ovechkin maintain his historic pace. It would push him ahead of the pace, helping to ensure that he reaches this goal. 

As you can see, Ovechkin's willingness to shoot, his power-play proficiency and his steady scoring touch give him a legitimate shot at scoring 50 goals in 50 games. It would be another feather in the cap of the only three-time winner of the Maurice Richard Trophy, according to Hockey-Reference.com. The task at hand presents a much a stiffer challenge for Ovechkin, but I wouldn't bet against him.   

In case you were wondering, the 50th game of the Capitals' regular-season schedule occurs on Jan. 21, at home against the Ottawa Senators. In 29 career games against the Sens, Ovechkin has scored 19 goals with six power-play goals, according to Hockey-Reference.com. Based on those numbers, Ovechkin will have a pretty good chance of reaching the 50-goal plateau in that very game. 

That is, if he hasn't done it already. 

 

Note: All statistics updated through Oct. 24 courtesy of NHL.com unless noted otherwise. 

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