Corey Masisak reported Thursday that Alex Ovechkin was wearing a no-contact jersey at the Capitals practice that afternoon and that the star LW needed a cortisone shot and was skating around with only one hand on his stick.
While Bruce Boudreau wouldn’t comment on specifics of the injury, all signs point to a hand or wrist problem. Masisak also mentioned that “Ovechkin has been spotted on television broadcasts rolling his left wrist while sitting at the bench during games at different points this season.”
So perhaps there’s an explanation for Ovechkin’s scoring troubles after all. He’s on pace to score only 29 goals this season. His shooting percentage is 7.4%, down from 13.6% last year, a stat which backs up what many have observed on the ice – his shot hasn’t been nearly as accurate this year.
Yet Ovechkin is expected to play Saturday against Florida. Enough is enough. Why not rest him now while the games are relatively meaningless?
It’s a tough guy’s sport and players (especially team captains) don’t want to look like they’re going “soft” on their teammates. So it’s normal to play through injuries in the NHL. Nobody gets cool points for being a crybaby. But at some point the machismo attitude crosses the line from “good for team chemistry” to just plain stupid.
It’s impossible for any of us on the outside to know exactly what’s going on, how long Ovechkin has been dealing with the injury, what type of injury it is, etc. What we do know is that he hasn’t been nearly as effective as they’ve needed him to be and that he’s not 100%.
Even if they continue to keep pucks out of their own end, the Caps need Ovechkin at his best for the playoffs. If resting him can conceivably help him return to his vintage form by then, the team should do the responsible thing and give him some time off.