For those wondering, yes, Alex Ovechkin conferred with the Capitals’ medical staff before suiting up in Russia’s 3-0 win over France today at the IIHF World Championships.
“There were no orders forbidding anything,” Ovechkin told reporters after the win, which advances Russia [8-0] into Saturday’s semifinals against the winner of today’s game between Sweden and Belarus. “There was advice, but what specifically I can not tell you. Everything depends on the situation.”
Considering Ovechkin was hospitalized on Sunday with what was first believed to be a serious knee injury, and that the Capitals still have seven years and $70 million committed to their 28-year-old captain, you can speculate on the tone of that conversation.
“I wasn’t jeopardizing my health,” Ovechkin said. “I knew in case of a collision the brace would protect me. I had collision in the first period, and I realized the leg felt all right. There was no pain at all, and I was not on any painkillers.”
With hindsight being 20/20 Ovechkin seemed happy with his decision to play for Russia, even though he did not factor in the scoring. Playing left wing and wearing a brace on his right knee, Ovechkin took just 17 shifts and saw a total of 14:46 in ice time, well below the 20:32 he averaged with the Caps this season.
According to Russian Machine Never Breaks, Ovechkin skated on a second line with Sergei Plotnikov and Vadim Shipachyov, logging 6:40 in the first period, 5:17 in the second, and 2:49 in the third after the Russians had taken a 3-0 lead. Ovechkin told Slava Malamud of sport-express.ru that he played at about 90 percent.
“I am feeling good,” Ovechkin said. “Maybe a bit awkward to skate, but I think I will play the next game without the brace. I hope it will be much better. There are still two days, so I think I will recover to 100 percent.”
Ovechkin has three goals and six assists in seven games in the tournament. He led the NHL with 51 goals and was tied with Nicklas Backstrom for the Capitals’ team lead with 79 points.