Ovechkin '08: One of the greatest
goal-scoring seasons of all time?
Forty-five goals in 54 games isn't 50 in 50, but it's about as close as we can reasonably expect these days.
Alex Ovechkin's actually on pace for 68 goals so far this season, but with 20 goals in his last 17 games, perhaps that's too low a ceiling. We haven't seen even a 60-goal man since Mario Lemieux turned the trick 12 years ago and potted 69, and not since the early 90s has anyone broke the 70-goal barrier.
If Ovechkin keeps up this torrid pace and, in fact, hits somewhere in the high 60s this season, my guess is that it goes down as one of the all-time greatest goal-scoring seasons.
Here's a look at the goals per game of the NHL's leading goal scorers since Lemieux's big year in 1995-96:
So he's certainly the best we've seen in a good long while.
Bringing in the top performances of the 1980s and early 90s certainly drops Ovechkin well back, but let's do it anyway. These are the top performances by players who led the league in goal scoring in a particular season (Rocket Richard winners post-Original Six, if you will):
Twentieth is nothing to sniff at. But, of course, how many of those seasons were piled up when goal scoring was plentiful? Gretzky's record 92-goal campaign came when the league averaged more than eight goals per game; this season, in Ovechkin's era, there are only about 5.50.
If we scale every one of these seasons down to that 2007-08 rate, where does 68 goals fit into the equation? How impressive would that accomplishment be?
The results will surprise you:
If you simply prorate Ovechkin's totals this season, in a 5.50 goals per game era, to the year Gretzky had 92 goals, 68.3 becomes 99.7 goals.
This is a pretty crude way to compare eras, but what I'm trying to get at is that 68 goals this season would be an incredible accomplishment.
Forty-five goals in 54 games isn't 50 in 50 — it's better.