But what has been most impressive with Ovechkin’s race to the top of the list is how his four power-play goals have come in various ways. In addition to his one-timer, he has scored rebound and deflection goals in front.
“It’s not only that one spot that he scores goals,” Andreychuk said during a video conference call this month. “He scores goals in a whole bunch of places. Yes, that’s his patented shot. But … this guy is a special talent.”
Capitals assistant coach Blaine Forsythe, who runs Washington’s power play, said Ovechkin may not be as “dialed in as he normally is from that spot,” but it is encouraging that he is still getting plenty of opportunities with the man advantage.
Ovechkin doesn’t have an explanation for his lack of one-timers on the power play but is content with the scoring chances he’s getting.
“Sometimes you just have to take what you have, right?” he said. “If I don’t have any chances on the power play, I just have to find different areas to score goals.”
Forsythe said Ovechkin goes through stages when the opposition takes away his chances, forcing him to distribute the puck. Five of his 18 assists this season have come on the power play.
“Sometimes we want to spread out the coverage [on the power play] even when it is a passing situation where he can drag coverage away from someone else and make a hole,” Forsythe said. “He’s gotten a lot better at that. He is not thinking about just shots all the time.”
Injuries — Washington is without forwards T.J. Oshie (lower body), Nicklas Backstrom (hip) and Conor Sheary (upper body), among others — have slowed the power play, but Forsythe said it has been trending in the right direction.
Ovechkin is likely to remain in his spot on the left side even with the many injuries and changes in personnel, Forsythe said.
“We tried different things in the past where we would move him around, and I think there is where he is more comfortable,” Forsythe said. “The good thing about him is he knows that even if he goes there, he is going to draw attention. … He is a very good teammate like that. He will say ... ‘Okay, you guys score,’ and it will normally go in cycles.”
Andreychuk, who retired in 2006, played in an era when many of the power-play goals came from directly in front of the net. He was usually stationed six feet in front of the goal and relied on his teammates to get him the puck for deflections and rebound opportunities.
“I got one one-timer in my career out of the 600-and-something goals,” Andreychuk said of the 640 career tallies in his Hall of Fame career. “So, yeah, totally different. Opposites, right? And I’ve been watching the telecast for a few weeks now. There’s been some references to myself, and a lot of them have talked about it was a different game, it was a different style.”
Andreychuk said Ovechkin’s consistency impresses him most.
“When that day comes [and Ovechkin breaks the record], I had a good run,” Andreychuk said. “Let’s just say that. It’s been a while. It’s been fun. And to be put in that same class as Phil Esposito, Brett Hull and now Alex Ovechkin, I’m so very honored.”