Alex Ovechkin is on pace to score 50 goals and go over the century mark in points for the first time since the 2009-10 season. While that’s impressive, Ovechkin’s durability at age 36 is arguably even more mind-blowing.
Before ending up in COVID protocol ahead of last week’s Edmonton Oilers’ game (he will also miss tonight’s game against Montreal), Ovechkin was the only Capitals player not to miss a game this season. Ovi’s also been skating two minutes and 21 seconds more per game than last year. Ovechkin’s 21:51 average ice time is the most since his early 20s — the 2008-09 season where Bruce Boudreau gave his star 22:59 a night.
So what is the secret to Ovechkin’s figurative fountain of youth?
“Well I have a special diet, you know?” Ovechkin said jokingly to the press on Tuesday. “I’m not going to tell you what it is. [Our PR guy] knows.”
While Ovechkin wouldn’t dish on his diet, Lars Eller was more willing to in a Q/A with The Athletic. Eller revealed to Tarik El-Bashir that Ovechkin on the team’s chef-prepared meals when traveling, opting for a less-traditional snack.
“Every time we go on the plane he always picks up a footlong spicy Italian from Subway,” Eller told El-Bashir. “He always comes on the plane, he sits down and he just eats this huge, footlong spicy Italian sandwich.”
El-Bashir asked Ovechkin if eating fresh and getting the “spicy Italian from the gas station at Dulles” was part of the diet.
“It’s one of the secrets,” Ovechkin said to laughter.
The Spicy Italian sub includes spicy pepperoni, salami, and cheese. You can also toss on peppers, oil, vinegar, or, quoting Subway “anything else your taste buds desire.”
If the footlong includes “double cheese and extra mayo” as Ovechkin said as he walked away from the podium, the star athlete would be consuming around 1,200 calories per sub and an astonishing 3,120 mg of sodium, which is nearly double what a normal amount of sodium a normal human should have in an entire day.
Ovechkin’s diet has always been confusing — he drinks soda on the bench during games — and “borderline inspiring”, in the words of Brooks Orpik. During the 2018 Stanley Cup run, Orpik told the Players’ Tribune that the future Hall of Famer has a heavy pasta dish before every game.
“Ovi always orders the same thing — Mamma Lucia, which is this pasta dish that’s like chicken parm with noodles, bread, cheese, the kind of thing you want to take a five-hour nap after eating,” Orpik said. “He makes a big display of it too. There’s no shame. It’ll be eleven in the morning, way before anyone is really thinking about eating lunch, and Ovi will walk into the dining area yelling, ‘Mamma Lucia! Mamma Lucia!’ I don’t know. It’s weird, but it seems normal now.”
In 2019, Ovechkin’s wife Nastya filmed him eating an entire plate of spaghetti at 9 AM before taking on the Rangers later that night.
There are other reasons for Ovechkin’s incredible fitness. Less sexy stuff like hard work and a motivation to catch Gretzky’s goals record.
“I think it’s a situation where it was a good offseason for me,” Ovechkin said. “Work hard with Pavel. Obviously, we knew what the training had to be, prepare yourself for a long year. When you feel good, you just want to play more and more.”
And oh yeah, always being hungry for more success.
Coach taking on his former squad.
Puck is ⬇️ in DC.
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