Let's talk about Alex Ovechkin.
It wasn't that long ago that the hockey world was wondering whether we would ever see him dominate the way he did in the early part of his career when he was pretty much a lock to score 50 goals.
Last season he started to get back to that level after a couple of "down" years (it speaks to how great Ovechkin's been when back-to-back 30-goal seasons are "down" years) when he started scoring goals in bunches in the second half of the season (22 in his final 21 games) to win his fourth goal-scoring crown and third MVP.
So far this season he has picked right up where he left off a year ago.
He scored two more goals in the Capitals' 5-4 shootout win over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night, giving him nine in his first nine games to start the season to take over sole possession of first place in the early goal-scoring race.
Here he is scoring his second goal and blowing away the Winnipeg defense in the process.
This is certainly an impressive start for Ovechkin, even more so when you consider that it matches the best start to a season that he has ever had in the NHL. And he's had some pretty quick starts. The only other season in his career that he scored nine goals in nine games to start the season was 2009-10. He finished the year with the fourth of his four 50-goal seasons. He might very well be on his way to another.
Here are his previous nine-game stretches to start the season (final goals for the season in parenthesis)
- 2013-14: 9 goals, 61 shots (TBD)
- 2009-10: 9 goals, 65 shots (50 goals)
- 2006-07: 6 goals, 52 shots (46 goals)
- 2007-08: 6 goals, 47 shots (65 goals)
- 2005-06: 6 goals, 40 shots (52 goals)
- 2011-12: 5 goals, 33 shots (38 goals)
- 2010-11: 4 goals, 45 shots (32 goals)
- 2008-09: 2 goals, 45 shots (56 goals)
- 2012-13: 2 goals, 34 shots (32 goals in 48 games)
When you go back to last season, that means he's now scored 31 goals in his past 30 regular season games, which is pretty incredible.
What's especially encouraging for the Capitals about his start this season is the shot totals (6.75 per game), which are back up to the level they were earlier in his career. If he averaged even six shots per game over the rest of the season, and shot at his career average of 12.2 percent, that would put him on a pace to score 62 goals this season.
Even a five-shot per game average would put him on a pace for nearly around 54 goals.
So, yeah, he's off to a pretty great start.