PHOENIX -- Wayne Gretzky knows a thing or two about scoring goals.
Yesterday the greatest offensive player in the history of the game weighed in on Washington Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin, whose 57 goals leads the league this season.
"He's just a bull," Gretzky said. "He's got a little bit of everything. He's got the release and the hands that (Mike) Bossy had, the quickness that (Jari) Kurri had and the toughness that (Mark) Messier had. He's the whole package and he loves to score goals."
Thus far in his three NHL seasons Ovechkin has 155 goals. Gretzky had a mind-boggling 198 goals and in his first three seasons. In his third NHL season with the Oilers, Gretzky scored 50 goals in 39 games on his way to a record 92.
"I always say 50 in 39 was my favourite record because I think that will always be the hardest one to break," Gretzky said. "I think I had 14 goals in four games and nine in the last two, so something can be said for that."
With 10 games left in the season for the Capitals, Ovechkin should break the 60-goal plateau. That's something that hasn't been accomplished since Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux scored 69 in the 1995-96 season.
"I think he can get 90 one day," Gretzky said. "The thing about scoring goals, it's one thing to score but there are some guys that really enjoy scoring goals more than other guys. He's one of those guys that likes to score. If he could he would keep the puck for every one. But it's great for the game, he brings excitement to the game, he's fun to watch. He's a good player."
Gretzky believes goaltenders are the big reason why it's harder to score these days. Along with the bigger equipment, they're all better players.
"The goalies are all athletes now," he said. "I mean our guy is six-foot-five and can do the splits. And every guy is an upper echelon guy. It's not like our day. I remember going into the morning skate and Johnny Bower was taking the morning skate at 61 and they said he might play that night. I couldn't sleep all day I was so excited."