Alex Ovechkin left the ice bloodied and in pain after taking a puck to the face in practice Thursday. Twenty-two stitches later, the Washington Capitals’ captain was doing fine.
“It’s hockey,” he wrote on Twitter, accompanied by a photo of his wounded chin.
Hockey is something that Ovechkin showed early in his career he could dominate. Even in recent years, amid plenty of criticism, it’s impossible to say the 27-year-old star isn’t still pretty good at it.
Lately in particular. Ovechkin has six goals and four assists in his past six games. That’s one way to silence the critics, at least temporarily.
“You” could mean any member of the media, or specifically NBC Sports analysts Mike Milbury and Pierre McGuire, who took opportunities on the air to point out Ovechkin’s flaws. Given his $9 million salary, though, the captain isn’t and shouldn’t be immune from criticism.
But he also has every right to prove naysayers wrong. In nine games since being a minus-3 player against the New York Rangers, when McGuire ripped Ovechkin for a mistake that led to a goal by Derek Stepan, he has seven goals and five assists.
“The most important thing for me is the chances,” Ovechkin said. “If I have like two games, no chances, no shootings, of course it’s something bad with me and maybe our line didn’t work out. But right now everything is working, and I feel pretty good.”
“He carries us. And he brings an enthusiasm that is right through the lineup,” Oates said. “I’m trying to tap into it as much as I can all night long.”
Ovechkin extended his point streak to six with an assist Tuesday night against the New York Islanders, but it was the first time he didn’t score a goal since March 16 at the Boston Bruins. It would have been his first six-game goal-scoring streak since January 2008.
He has these kinds of runs every once in a while, when it looks like the puck will go in just about every time he touches it. But Ovechkin doesn’t feel like he will score every time he shoots.
“Sometimes it’s just lucky shot, sometimes it’s lucky bounce,” he said. “Linemates have to do very good job to find me. They did, and I just have to put puck in the net.”