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Red Wings Don’t Want Ovi Passing Gordie Howe on Their Watch



Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Alex Ovechkin has 800 NHL goals. He needs one to pass Gordie Howe to move into second on the NHL's All-Time scoring list.

Coach Derek Lalonde hopes the Gordie Howe legacy might inspire the Detroit Red Wings to play at their highest level Monday against the Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.

Ovechkin is currently tied with Howe for second on the NHL’s all-time scoring list with 801 career goals. Considering the late Howe netted most of those goals playing 25 seasons for the Red Wings, it doesn’t seem right that Red Wings might give up the goal that allows Ovechkin to pass him.

“I don’t think as an organization we want to see him finish second overall,” Lalonde said. “So hopefully our guys will take that a little personal, the fact what Gordie Howe is and means to this organization. So hopefully…(they) try to push that back for someone else.”

In the midst of a five-game losing streak, the Red Wings will take whatever motivation they can find to get back on track. Last week, they were in third place in the Atlantic Division and now they are trying to avoid slipping down to the bottom of the Atlantic. They are only two points ahead of last-place Montreal in the Atlantic. The Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators are also only two points behind Detroit.

Look to Improve PP and PK

On Sunday, the Red Wings spent practice trying to rediscover their special teams mojo. The Ottawa Senators produced three power play goals and two shorthanded goals in beating Detroit 6-3 Saturday.

Lalonde’s Sunday objective was getting his team thinking about better habits on special teams.

“A lot of it starts with battles off of face-offs, recovering pucks on the power play,” Lalonde said. “The point of emphasis on the video today and we tried to execute that today. It’s a little frustrating, both special teams and obviously there is some execution issues there but a little bit is power play losing some battles, losing some 50-50s. They get a clear. On the PK we went through four games in a row and we only gave up one goal and it was the only chance they got. Last night with the puck on our stick we literally handed it right to them on two of their power-play goals. A little more detail, a little more sense of urgency in some areas for special teams to be successful.”

Veleno to Power Play?

The Red Wings are going to give Joe Veleno some power play time and Michael Rasmussen will get time as the net-front presence.

With four of their next give games on the road, the Red Wings understand the urgency of better execution on special teams. They can’t let the season slip away like it did in 2021-22.

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They will be playing a Washington team that has won six of its last seven. The Capitals have averaged better than four goals per game in that span. Ovechkin has 20 goals this season.

“Just amazing, his approach. It’s an honor to be competing against him in this league. I think our guys look at it the same,” Lalonde said. “An example like that … producing at the same level, his approach, he plays so hard.”

The Red Wings do respect him. It’s inevitable that Ovechkin will pass Howe. But the Red Wings don’t want him to pass Howe on their watch.