Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin missed the last three games of the regular season due to an upper-body injury he suffered in an April 24 game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. On Breakdown Day Sunday, Ovechkin confirmed it was a left shoulder issue.
“It’s not a secret that I hit the board, hit my shoulder,” Ovechkin said. “In playoffs, I don’t think it matter. If it hurts you have some injections, you have some magic pill.”
Despite the pain, Ovechkin delivered 30 hits (eighth-most in the NHL) and was a point-per-game player in the series, finishing second on the Capitals in postseason scoring only behind TJ Oshie.
“If it was playoffs, Game One, I was ready to play,” Ovechkin said. “We did some things to help it out. I was fine.”
Ovechkin also says he will not need surgery to correct the problem. When asked if everything else was good with him physically, he smiled wryly and said simply, “Yeah, all good.”
This is the second-straight playoff run that Ovechkin has not been 100 percent for. Before the Capitals played the Boston Bruins in the 2021 Playoffs, Ovechkin sat out seven of eight games down the stretch because of a lower-body injury.
The 2021-22 regular season saw Ovechkin score 50 goals for the ninth time in his career as he continues to defy all semblance of aging.
“Every year game’s changed, you have to be physically ready, mentally ready,” Ovechkin said. “If you take previous years, you don’t know what to expect from the season because of COVID and all the stuff. I think right now it’s how to be prepared for year. Right now it’s time to get a rest, finally to see family, go back home, take a rest, and get ready for next year.”
Ovi spent most of the second half of the season without his wife Nastya and their two sons Sergei and Ilya as they returned to Russia in late winter. He plans to fly to Moscow on Monday.
“It was tough,” he said. “I saw my wife one week. I didn’t see my kids since they left. It’s a good thing we have technology you can see them, talk to them. Can’t imagine if we were back to ’90s, have to letter, have to write message. Right now we can talk, see each other. They know who I am.”
The 2022 playoffs were the fourth-straight first-round exit for an aging core led by the Russian superstar since they took home the Stanley Cup in 2018.
“I think the experience that we have, it helps,” he said. “It’s not my job to decide who’s gonna stay, who’s gonna be out. This group of guys is tremendous, unbelievable atmosphere in the locker room. You can ask even Sergey (Caps VP of Communications), he enjoy it too. I’m pretty sure there’s gonna be hard decisions, hard summer for us. I want to win, (fans) want us not to end season like that.
“Every year you fight for playoffs and then you fight for Cup,” he continued. “We’re not getting younger, it’s hard time right now. Nothing you can do right now, all you can do is get better for next year and try to win next year.”
The Caps ended the season with the oldest average age on their roster in the league, led by the 36-year-old Ovechkin.
“We can see how young guys step up this year through all the injuries,” Ovi responded when asked about the youth on the club. “It’s good for us, McJesus (Connor McMichael), Ax (Axel Jonsson-Fjallby), they’re growing up and they will help us for next year for sure.”
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