A sullen Alex Ovechkin returned to Kettler Capitals Iceplex for the first time since being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs for the sixth time in his 12-year NHL career.
In his final meeting with the media, the Russian machine confirmed that he played through two separate injuries during the postseason, needing injections to play through the pain. He will not participate in the 2017 IIHF World Championship being held in France and Germany.
Ovechkin suffered an undisclosed knee injury in the first round of the playoffs.
“It was nothing big injured,” Ovechkin said according to NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti.
During Game Five of the Caps-Leafs first-round series, Ovechkin absorbed a painful leg on leg hit from Nazem Kadri.
Kadri’s knee first made contact with Ovechkin’s left shin, flipping the Capitals captain to the ice.
Ovechkin would miss the remaining 2:28 of the first period, but would miraculously return for the start of the second.
When asked if he was feeling any pain after that game, Ovechkin seemed appalled by the question.
“All good. No worry,” Ovechkin said. “I was watching TV. Just have a Coke and enjoy the match.”
Ovechkin suffered his second injury, a hamstring issue, late in Game Three of the Capitals second-round series against the Penguins.
The Capitals captain said that neither of the injuries required surgery to heal and he did not have any ligament tears. After a short vacation with his parents and wife to Miami Beach, Ovechkin will return to Arlington before flying home to Russia for the rest of the summer.
Ovechkin also spoke about his demotion in the lineup (he received the seventh most minutes among Caps forwards in Game Seven). Late in the Penguins series, The Great Eight was moved to the third line and skated with Lars Eller and Tom Wilson. Ovechkin said that his drop from the first line was a strategic decision made by Barry Trotz and not inspired by any of his bumps or bruises.
Since the Game Seven loss Wednesday night, the figurative vultures have been out as Ovechkin’s future with the team has been openly debated by national media members. The Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga wrote a column criticizing Ovechkin’s leadership while the USA Today published an article entitled Why the Capitals should trade Alex Ovechkin.
“I think he does a good job,” TJ Oshie said to Gulitti when asked about Ovechkin’s leadership. “He leads by example.”
“It felt like we had all the ingredients,” Oshie continued. “It was just mentally we didn’t find a way to win. We didn’t find a way to win Game Seven.”
Headline photo: Amanda Bowen
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