Hockey's Rising Stars

Alex Ovechkin skated down the ice, shrugging off three defenders. He stopped inside the circle to the left of the goalie and fired a wrist shot at the Tampa Bay net. The puck flew past the goalie for Ovechkin's 50th goal of the year.

Ovechkin, a 23-year-old left-winger for the Washington Capitals, is one of the best young stars in pro hockey. Along with players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk of the Atlanta Thrashers, Ovechkin represents a new generation of high-scoring superstars that have made hockey an even more exciting sport to watch in recent years.

Ovechkin has now scored 50 or more goals in three different seasons for the Capitals; a very significant statistic. He is the first player in Washington Capitals' history to reach the 50 goal mark three times (he scored 52 goals as a rookie in 2005-06 and scored 65 goals last season). Also, Ovechkin has now scored at least 50 goals three times in his first four seasons in the NHL. The only other players who have done that are Mike Bossy, who played for the New York Islanders in the 1980s, and Wayne Gretzky, perhaps the best hockey player in history.

The fact that Ovechkin is on a list with great players like Bossy and Gretzky demonstrates what a great player he is. Twenty years ago, everybody got excited about hockey because of players like Gretzky, Bossy and the great Pittsburgh Penguin, Mario Lemieux. Today, people are just as excited about Ovechkin, Crosby and the other great young hockey stars. They make many goals, giving the fans what they want to see at the game and on TV.

The best part is that this new group of stars will be around for many years to come. Who knows how many records they will break?

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