Every year after the playoffs end, Caps players reveal a myriad of injuries that they’ve been playing through. Usually, they’re brutal.
For instance, during his season-ending presser, Alex Ovechkin announced that he was unable to participate in the World Championship — something he does almost every year — due to two injuries he suffered during the NHL postseason.
“I talked to [Oleg Znarok] and just said I’m not able to help the team,” Ovechkin said on breakdown day. “If I can’t, I can’t. I wish him luck and I’m going to cheer for them. It’s time to recover. It’s time to take a deep breath and take some time off and get back to work.”
Ovechkin told the press that he had to take pain-numbing injections to continue playing in the postseason. His first injury, which was well documented, happened when Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri kneed Ovechkin in his left leg.
Ovechkin’s second issue was a hamstring injury he suffered against the Penguins. According to Ovechkin, it happened during “Game Three at the end.”
“No, it’s the first time I had this injury,” Ovechkin said. “I just fell into the boards and it does not feel good.”
After re-watching the game, the injury appeared to happen in the third period with 2:41 remaining in the game.
The Caps had a 2-0 lead. Nicklas Backstrom lobbed the puck out of the defensive zone, trying to spring Ovechkin loose for an empty-net goal. Ovechkin and Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz got in a foot race for the puck. As the two approached the biscuit near the Penguins bench, Schultz hit Ovechkin in the shoulder, causing both players to lose balance and crash into the boards.
Ovechkin’s right skate caught a rut in the ice, causing Ovechkin to go into the dasher boards awkwardly. The hit appeared to put great stress on Ovechkin’s leg and groin.
In hindsight, Schultz, who was unpenalized on the play, arguably committed interference. Per the NHL rule book, “a minor penalty shall be imposed on a player who interferes with or impedes the progress of an opponent who is not in possession of the puck.” The Penguins would go on to score two goals in under a minute, tying the game at two.
In the closing minute of the third period, Ovechkin missed a shift with the first line. Daniel Winnik took his place.
In overtime, Ovechkin started, but left the ice after another awkward hit at center ice 16 seconds into his shift.
The next time Ovechkin would jump on the ice was on a power play several minutes later. Kevin Shattenkirk scored the OTGWG.
After the season was over, Nastya Ovechkina posted a gruesome photo of Ovechkin’s hamstring in an Instagram story, which we first reported. The caption read, “That’s hockey [for you].”
Despite what appear to be excruciating injuries, Ovechkin, who finished second on the team with five postseason goals, made no excuses during his final meeting with the press.
“You don’t want to play with any sort of injury,” Ovechkin said. “Of course, you don’t feel 100 percent, you don’t strength in your leg, but you play through that. Some players play with broken hand, broken leg because it’s the playoffs. You have to sacrifice your body to get success and get the result.”
Additional reporting by Chris Gordon.
Headline photo: Rob Carr
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