Few of the Washington Capitals' star skaters were completely healthy against the Florida Panthers. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and Carl Hagelin all revealed playing with an injury on Sunday in their last media encounter of the year when clearing their lockers.
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In his case, the captain of the team was hit in the shoulder, but he will not need to undergo an operation to heal the whole thing. Despite this ailment, "Ovie" finished the first round of the playoffs ranked eighth in the National League in hits, with 30.
"It's no secret that I give checks, that I bump my shoulder," Ovechkin said on his team's website. In the playoffs, that means nothing. If you're in pain, you get an injection or you take a magic pill."
His longtime partner, Nicklas Backstrom, also had a season with his share of misfortunes. The Swede first missed several games at the start of the season, due to a left hip injury that still bothered him in the playoffs, in addition to having contracted COVID-19.
Ovechkin's sidekick didn't leak anything about the measures he will take to treat his hip, whether simply with rehabilitation or with the help of an operation, mentioning that "decisions had yet to be taken" and that "nothing was finalized".
"My hip will never be 100% again," he admitted. It's something we all know. Some days are good, others not. That's life."
However, if Backstrom's half-hearted remarks could even cast doubt on an early retirement, Ovechkin seems confident of reuniting with his 34-year-old friend at the start of next season.
"He's a warrior," said the Russian. I'm sure he'll be better next year. He means a lot to this team, this organization. He's a leader."
After signing a five-year contract extension with the Capitals last summer, the "Great 8" had made no secret of its intentions to join and even edge out Wayne Gretzky for the National League's all-time No. goals.
With 50 successes in 77 games this season, the one who has played his 1274 career games with the “Caps” has taken another step in this direction. He thus overtook Marcel Dionne, Brett Hull and Jaromir Jagr, to settle in third place in history, with 780 nets. Gordie Howe is next on his list and Ovechkin will have a good chance to surpass him next season, he who will need 21 goals to join the Detroit Red Wings legend and another to surpass him. There will only be “La Merveille” left, he who holds a lead of 114 goals.
“Every year the game changes. Every year we have to be mentally and physically ready, Ovechkin said. When you look at the last seasons, you don't know what to expect anymore, with COVID-19 and all the rest. But now is the time to go home, see my family, rest and prepare for the next year.