It’s a video clip that has made its way around hockey cyberspace.
During Sunday night’s season ticket holder event at Six Flags, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin drilled a soccer ball with his left foot through a hole only a fraction bigger than the ball itself.
It was a remarkable shot by a player who has been remarkably accurate on the ice lately.
So, how did he do it?
“Five minutes [before], my Dad did it,” Ovechkin said, referring to his father, Mikhail, a former professional soccer player. “He did it first and I did it second. I don’t know. It’s the Ovechkin family.”
With his father a former professional soccer player, his mother a two-time Olympic gold medalist in basketball and his future wife one of the top tennis players in the world, we can only imagine the kind of athlete Ovechkin and Maria Kirilenko might produce one day.
But that’s a story for another day.
Two months after being shredded by hockey analysts who wondered if he would ever be more than a 30-goal scorer, Ovechkin has hoisted the Capitals on his back and carried them to within a few wins of a fifth Southeast Division title in six years.
In his past 18 games Ovechkin has 19 goals and nine assists, thrusting him into the league lead in goals with 27 and sparking conversations that he is just as worthy of Hart Trophy honors as Sidney Crosby.
Ovechkin says he’s having more fun this season, not just because he’s scoring goals, but because the Caps are winning.
“It’s fun,” he said. “I always have fun. Sometimes it’s good fun, sometimes it’s bad fun.
When I score goals and the team’s winning it’s a different fun.”
Teammate Troy Brouwer says he’s noticed a change in Ovechkin since he was reunited with linemate Nicklas Backstrom, whom he valiantly defended Tuesday night after Backstrom was checked hard into the boards by Toronto’s Jay McClement.
“It starts off the ice,” Brouwer said. “When they’re happy and having fun it translates on the ice.
“You need your top players to be your top players. Look around the league at who’s doing well and their leading scorers are guys on their top line. That’s how it should be. Nicky and Ovi have played together quite a few years and have a good chemistry together and you add another skilled player who compete in Jojo [Marcus Johansson]. Now you have two players who can feed him the puck and that makes him more dangerous.”
Backstrom said he noticed all the negativity that surrounded Ovechkin earlier this season, when he started the year with two goals in his first 10 games.
“I don’t think he cares about that too much,” Backstrom said. “People can have their opinions all the time and that’s how it is. You just have to try to not think about it.
“I think if you read everything that’s written it’s hard to put it out of your mind. I always focus on my game and I don’t read what other people think. What people think in here is all that matters.”