Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek will learn this afternoon if their hits along the boards Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh were enough to warrant NHL suspensions.
Ovechkin and Michalek are scheduled to talk with NHL vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan to discuss Ovechkins body slam on Michalek and Michaleks elbow to the back of Matt Hendricks head.
I know were going to have a conversation, Ovechkin said after Mondays practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. It was a hit. I dont want to comment on my hit until after the call with Shanahan.
Capitals coach Dale Hunter also refrained from commenting on both hits, saying he would let the NHL handle it.
"Ovechkin has always played the same game," Hunter said. "I haven't seen him change since I've been watching him play when he came here."
Ovechkin has been suspended twice and fined once by the NHL for previous hits. Two years ago he was suspended two games for a hit on Carolinas Tim Gleason, then two more games for a hit on Chicagos Brian Campbell. He was also fined 2,500 for slew-footing Atlantas Rich Peverly earlier in that same 2009-10 season.
As for Michalek, hes facing a hearing on what Hendricks described as a dirty hit. But when asked if it was suspendable, Hendricks said: I leave those decisions to the big guys in the league office. Thats not my call.
Hendricks said he knew Michalek was coming, but I didnt expect that. I tried to play the puck along the boards to Troy Brouwer. You try to put yourself in good position to take hits. I was a couple feet off the boards and going for the puck. I dont think it was a clean hit.
Given Ovechkins history, Mike Knuble was fearing the worst, saying Ovechkins hit looks bad when replayed in slow motion.
He comes in heavy, Knuble said. I guess you can say he rose up a little bit and left his feet a little. Its hard to say. You dont want to see your top guy having a hearing and possibly be suspended for a big game the next day.
Ovechkin said he needs to play physical to be effective, especially against the Capitals next opponent. The defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins visit the Verizon Center on Tuesday night.
Of course, because youre in the game, he said. When you skate without hits just skating around youre not in the game.
Were a big and strong team and when we play a physical game and play aggressive, we have a good game and score goals, Ovechkin said. Its something we were missing in Carolina in a 3-0 loss Friday night and missing in the first period against Pittsburgh.