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Caps' Carbery: Ovi's pursuit of goals record 'a huge responsibility for me'

Scott Taetsch / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Like everyone else in the hockey world, new Washington Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery will be keeping a close eye on Alex Ovechkin's pursuit of Wayne Gretzky on the NHL's all-time goals list.

"It's a huge responsibility for me as a head coach. ... It's my job as a head coach to put him in situations where he can be successful," Carbery said during his introductory press conference Thursday. "That's what my challenge is, and I don't take that lightly at all.

"That'll work into how we play as a group. That'll be one of my focuses - how do we put him in situations to succeed?"

Ovechkin scored 42 goals in 73 games this season and is 73 tallies away from surpassing Gretzky in the No. 1 spot. He passed Gordie Howe for sole possession of second place on the list in December.

Rank Player GP G
1 Wayne Gretzky 1487 894
2 Alex Ovechkin 1347 822
3 Gordie Howe 1767 801

Ovechkin overtook Gretzky in 2022-23 for most career 40-goal seasons (13).

The power play will likely be key to Ovechkin's chase of the Great One. The Russian is already the league's all-time leader in goals on the man advantage (299), but the Capitals' power play has ranked firmly in the middle of the pack in recent years.

Washington's unit ranked 16th in the league this season after converting on 21.2% of its chances, a slight improvement from 2021-22's abysmal 18.8%.

Carbery helmed the Maple Leafs' power play for the past two campaigns as an assistant coach. Toronto's unit ranked second in the league with a success rate of 26.6% over that span, trailing only the high-flying Edmonton Oilers.

The first-time NHL bench boss said the Capitals' power play will be a "main focus" as he works on rounding out his coaching staff.

"I've followed their power play very, very closely over the last two years, watched them all," he said. "I think there's some things that we can do there."

Washington missed the playoffs this campaign for the first time since 2013-14, finishing sixth in the Metropolitan Division with a 35-37-10 record.

Carbery was named the 20th head coach in Capitals history on Tuesday.

Caps' Carbery: Ovi's pursuit of goals record 'a huge responsibility for me'
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