Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin became the fourth-fastest player in National Hockey League history to score 600 career goals when he punched in a loose puck against the Winnipeg Jets on Monday night.
"The 600 will be something he'll have forever, but I think he'll put a lot of pride if he can get 50 this year", Trotz said. "If we're playing like this with (linemates Nikolai Ehlers and Paul Stastny), why not?" He said there's no additional pressure going up against Ovechkin, his longtime idol.
"But at 19, that's pretty exciting because again, there's lot of room as he physically matures, for his game to change and become a power forward and a big, strong man who can score off the rush".
As for the walking wounded, Jets centre Mark Scheifele took part in the morning skate but has been ruled out of the remainder of this trip as he works his way back from an upper-body injury that is not related to the suspected shoulder issue that kept him out of 16 games earlier this season. "Washington, they've always been my favourite team when I was growing up", said Laine, who is riding an 11-game point streak that has produced 15 goals and 21 points.
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After scoring 33 goals in 2016-17, his second-lowest total in a non-lockout-shortened season, the 32-year-old Ovechkin's resurgence made his climb to 600 all the more impressive.
Ovechkin already has seven more than he put up all last season to get to 40 for the ninth time. He is trying to become the third player ever to record eight 50-goal seasons, joining Gretzky and Mike Bossy, who each achieved the feat nine times in their careers.
"I don't think people understand how hard that is to do", Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri said. "He's got a very special shot".
Jets head coach Paul Maurice has spoken at length about how much better Laine is skating lately and Monday he was asked how impressed he is that the Finnish sniper is producing so much offence at such a young age.
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"That's a free meal for me for sure", Kuznetsov joked.
The day has already come when Laine's release looks more effortless than Ovechkin's.
"Ovi's got a big, winding up wrister and it comes off just kind of so insane whereas Patty, it's nearly like he's throwing darts at the net", Chiarot said. "I think it's the most risky shot in the league".
The growth in Ovechkin's game isn't lost on players and coaches around the league who have watched his career.
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"I have confidence right now", Malkin said recently. "Forty is nice, but 50 is better". "It's like every shot goes in". "I was in a good spot - just behind him". Since entering the National Hockey League in 2005, no one has come close to matching Ovechkin's goal totals, as he has almost 200 more tallies than the next highest scorer, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins (404). "Any of these guys, confidence is a critical piece. So he's feeling it, he's feeling good".