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Will Alex Ovechkin Break Wayne Gretzky’s Goal-Scoring Record?

Odds on how many goals Alex Ovechkin will need to catch Wayne Gretzky’s record of 894 goals.

With over 740 career goals, the list of names above Alex Ovechkin on the all-time NHL goal-scoring leaderboard is a short one. Online sportsbook Bovada has recently released odds on how many goals Ovechkin will need after this season in order to catch the 894 goals Wayne Gretzky scored during his illustrious career.

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Bovada has set the total for this bet at 118.5 goals. That means bettors will have to decide if Ovechkin will need more or less than 118.5 after this season ends in order to catch the Great One.

How Many Goals Will Ovechkin Need To Catch Gretzky After This Season?

Ovechkin’s Odds To Break Gretzky’s Record
OVER/UNDEROdds
OVER 118.5-120
UNDER 118.5-120

Odds as of November 10 at Bovada

Why Ovechkin Will Need UNDER 118.5 Goals At Season’s End

Before a bettor can form any conclusions on how many goals Ovechkin will be trailing by after this year, we need to perform some basic math. First of all, the Capitals captain started this season trailing Gretzky by 164 goals. In order to finish exactly 118.5 goals behind him, Ovi would have to score 45.5 goals this season. Ovechkin has had at least 46 goals in a season 11 times in his career, including 48 goals in 68 games the last time the NHL played a full 82-game regular season.

Some more interesting math for bettors to consider is Ovechkin’s career goals per game pace. Over the course of more than 1,200 games and 740 goals, Ovechkin has averaged 0.6 goals per game. In case anyone was concerned about how age factors into the equation, the Russian superstar has scored 123 goals over the 194 games he has played the last three calendar seasons.

That equates to a pace of 0.64 goals per game. Remarkably, Ovechkin is scoring at a better pace over his last three years than he has over the length of his career. What the quick math tells us is that if Ovechkin can deliver at the same goals per game pace he is currently delivering at, he will definitely finish requiring UNDER the 118.5 total.

Why Ovechkin Will Need OVER 118.5 Goals At Season’s End

What our basic math can’t do for us is predict an injury or prolonged slump. Obviously someone who has scored over 740 NHL goals doesn’t go into slumps very often. However, even the great Ovi is prone to the occasional one.

In the 2015-16 season, Ovechkin scored 50 goals in 79 games. In the 2017-18 season, he potted 49 goals in 82 games. However, he recorded only 33 goals in the season in between. Of course, 33 goals is still a great year for a lot of players. But if Ovechkin averages only 0.4 goals per game the rest of this year like he did during that campaign, he would finish requiring OVER 118.5 goals, not UNDER.

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From an injury perspective, there is no data to suggest he is about to be hurt any time soon. The fewest number of games Ovechkin has played in a standard 82-game season is 68. His ability to suit up for 70-plus games each year and avoid serious injuries is probably an aspect of his game people don’t talk about enough.

How Does Ovechkin Compare To Gretzky?

From a goal-scoring perspective, Gretzky scored 894 goals in 1,487 career games, which is pretty much exactly the same as Ovechkin’s pace of 0.6 goals per game. The big difference between Gretzky and Ovechkin appears to be how age seemed to impact their careers.

Ovi is scoring at a slightly higher goals per game pace over the last three years compared to his overall career. When you look at Gretzky’s career season by season, you’ll notice he went his last nine years without scoring 40 goals.

From 1982 to 1985, Gretzky recorded 323 of his 894 career goals. That represents a total of 36 percent of his goals over the course of just four seasons. He would play another 14 seasons after that incredible four-year stretch.

In regard to this specific bet and the 118.5 total that Bovada has set for the end of this year, my math tells me dropping a unit on the UNDER is the right play. Although my brain keeps reminding me that Ovechkin is now 36 years old and can’t keep up this pace forever, the data tells me there is no reason to expect a significant drop-off any time soon.