NHL Star Power Index: Alex Ovechkin records another 40-goal season, Mikko Rantanen approaches elite company

NHL Star Power Index: Alex Ovechkin records another 40-goal season, Mikko Rantanen approaches elite company

Welcome to the NHL Star Power Index: A weekly gauge of the players who are controlling substantial buzz around the league. When a player is included on this list it may not be a good thing -- it means that they are capturing a large amount of the hockey world's attention.

These players are in no particular order when it comes to the amount of buzz that they're creating. We'll revisit the Star Power Index every week throughout the regular season.

It seemed quite fitting that Alex Ovechkin etched his name in the NHL record books yet again on the same night he was being honored by the Washington Capitals.

On Tuesday, the Capitals honored Ovechkin for passing Gordie Howe (801) on the NHL's all-time goals list back on Dec. 23. In the opening period of Tuesday's 7-6 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Ovechkin scored his 40th goal of the 2022-23 season, and in doing so, passed Wayne Gretzky for the most 40-goal seasons in league history.

This marked the 13th time in which Ovechkin topped the 40-goal plateau and broke a tie with Gretzky for the record.

Ovechkin's goal was the 820th of his professional career, which places him 75 goals from breaking Gretzky's record for the most in NHL history. 

The Capitals winger became the fifth player in league history to score 40 goals in a season at age 37 or older. That short list includes Howe (age 40 in 1968-69), Johnny Bucyk (age 37 in 1972-73), Brendan Shanahan (age 37 in 2005-06) and Phil Esposito (age 37 in 1978-79).

Ovechkin now has 13 40-goal seasons to his credit and leads Gretzky (12), Mario Lemieux (10) and Marcel Dionne (10) on that list.  He could record even more history in the goals department before the dust settles on the 2022-23 regular season. Ovi is currently tied with New York Islanders legend Mike Bossy for the most career 50-goal seasons with nine. Following Tuesday's game, Washington has 10 more contests on their schedule.

Colorado Avalanche star Mikko Rantanen has been on fire and could be on the verge of joining some very elite company soon.

Rantanen currently has 47 goals through 70 games, just 11 goals from breaking Michel Goulet's franchise record (57) for most goals in a single season. Goulet set the team record during the 1982-83 season, when the Avalanche were known as the Quebec Nordiques.

With 12 games left on Colorado's regular season schedule, Rantanen, 26, certainly has a chance to catch Goulet's mark. He has registered at least one point in eight of his last nine games, including four multi-point performance during that span. The Avalanche forward has racked up 13 points (six goals, seven assists) during that recent hot streak.

He ranks third in the league in goals behind only Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid (60) and Boston Bruins standout David Pastrnak (48). Rantanen is also tied with McDavid with 36 even-strength goals on the season.

With his 47th goal in a 5-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday, Rantanen scored the most goals by an Avalanche player since the 2002-03 campaign when Milan Hejduk netted 50 goals. In addition, Rantanen is also just one goal from tying Teemu Selanne for the most goals (48) by a Finnish-born player in NHL history.

If Rantanen can stay hot down the stretch, the Avalanche still have a chance to win the Central Division as they trail the Dallas Stars by just two points for first place despite all the adversity they've faced.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov recently made some very impressive history. In Monday's 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings, Barkov registered the 614th point (238 goals, 376 assists) of his NHL career and in doing so, became the Panthers all-time leader in points.

Barkov placed himself atop Florida's all-time points list with an assist against Detroit. The veteran forward passed former Panthers star Jonathan Huberdeau for the top spot on the team's all-time list.

While becoming the Panthers' all-time points leader is impressive, it's just the latest in a string of strong performances for Barkov. He is currently on an eight-game point streak that began at the beginning of March. The Panthers star has registered multiple points in five of those contests, including four multi-point showings over his last five games.

His lone point against the Red Wings couldn't have come at a better time as he ended up assisting on the game-deciding goal.

Barkov currently ranks third on the team in points (63) and assists (45) while being fourth in goals (18). The versatile forward will certainly go down as one of the top players to ever wear a Panthers sweater and is still in the prime of his career at just 27.

Igor Shesterkin certainly had a month of February to forget. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner compiled a bleak 3.71 goals-against-average and just a .863 save percentage in seven starts.

However, the New York Rangers netminder has put those struggles behind him, and is playing some of his best hockey of the 2022-23 season right now

On Saturday, Shesterkin was terrific as he turned aside all 33 shots that he faced in a 6-0 Rangers win' over the Pittsburgh Penguins. It marked his first shutout since a 1-0 Rangers' overtime win against the Philadelphia Flyers all the way back on Nov. 1. Shesterkin has just two shutouts to his credit after recording six during his Vezina Trophy winning campaign a season ago.

Shesterkin may not have registered back-to-back shutouts the next time he took the ice. However, the Rangers goalie still produced a solid outing on Tuesday in a 3-2 loss at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes. 

Shesterkin stopped 36 of the 39 shots that he came into contact with. He was able to keep the Hurricanes' dynamic offense off of the score sheet for the opening two periods of the contest.

In March, Shesterkin has accumulated a 6-2-0 record to go along with a 2.22 and a .927 save percentage in eight starts. He's only yielded more than three goals in one of his outings.

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