Usually at this time of year, Alex Ovechkin is getting off a plane after a long and demanding All-Star weekend filled with interview demands and autograph requests.
Thanks to a mandatory three-game sitdown by the NHL and his decision not to partake in the All-Star festivities, Ovechkin is looking well-rested and a little frisky to get things going for real.
Im pretty rested right now, Ovechkin said after practicing with his teammates for the first time since Jan. 23, when he was informed of his three-game suspension. I was surprised. My body feels fresh. My arms, my legs, my head.
Because of his heavy hit on Pittsburghs Zbynek Michalek on Jan 22 Ovechkin is forced to go 13 days between games. Its the longest in-season, non-injury related break he has ever had in his NHL career.
And its clearly eating at him, especially with back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday against Tampa Bay and Florida.
Its the most important time of the year right now, Ovechkin said after Tuesdays practice at Kettler. We have to be sharp and ready for these huge games. We need every point.
Its going to be tough. Our goal right now is to go to the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, I cant help the team in Tampa and Florida, but Ill be there and watch from upstairs. I want to help my team get these points because they are important points for us and in the end points we need.