Alex Ovechkin: still visibly shaken after the Capitals’ stunning playoff defeat (photo via Sashastolemyheart on Tumblr).

After arriving in Bratislava, Slovakia just hours earlier, Alex Ovechkin took to the ice for his first practice with Team Russia on Saturday. Despite the Capitals’ crushing and humiliating elimination from the playoffs less no more than three days old, he was all smiles on the ice. Though Ovechkin played through numerous injuries this season, Capitals General Manager George McPhee told reporters at Kettler Capitals Iceplex Thursday he had no problems with the Great Eight suiting up for his motherland at the Worlds rather than taking the time to rest up.

“He’s healthy now and he wants to play and I’ve never had a problem with players going to the World Championships if they want to play,” McPhee said. “If they buy in 100% and are there because they want to play, not because they feel obligated because their country is asking them to play. They’ve got to want to play and he wants to play so we’re fine with it.”

Though having just one practice with his new mates, Ovi was in Russia’s lineup against the Czech Republic Sunday. The Ruskies were defeated, 3-2, by their Czech friends while Ovechkin played 14:49 of ice time, registered two shots on goal and was a minus-one. Russia now stands at 3-2 for the tournament and will face Finland Monday at 10:15 AM Eastern Time. They can finish second in their Qualifying Round Group with a win and a Germany loss to the Czech Republic later in the day.

Below, check out some shots of Ovechkin in action during the game and at practice with Team Russia.

Practice Photos

Photo credit: Reuters

Photo credit: Reuters

Photo credit: Reuters; following photos via Sashastolemyheart

Game Photos

Photo credit: Matthew Manor; following photos courtesy Alexander Safonov and Championat.ru

Following photos courtesy Elena Rusko and Sportbox.ru

  • dan

    What’s up with Ovie’s tape on the outside of his skates around his ankles? Never seen him do that before…

  • http://twitter.com/chris_gordon Chris Gordon

    Dan, he’s only been doing that for a little while. I want to say it started Game Three of the Tampa series but I’m not sure.

  • @joonas6

    You’re right Chris. And during the Hockey Night In Canada, they said that, because of rapid weight loss during the playoffs, sometimes the volume in the skates is increased because the overall mass of the foot is reduced… so as a quick fix, they use the tape to help bind the skates down a bit more.

  • judy

    Hmm… As a hockey mom I’ll tell you that we do that with little kids if we can’t get the skates tight enough. It’s meant to stop the ankles from buckling. I’ve never seen Ovi do that so it makes me wonder, is he recovering from some ankle issue??? For some reason, he’s worried about them buckling…

  • JW90

    Don’t like how happy he looks…

  • Joe M.

    I remember him taking spills in Game 2 of the TB series, the second of which was pretty awkward. So either he has skate issues (doubt because he has to have more than one pair) or something is going on with his ankles.

  • PainKiller

    I feel like I saw Ovie look clumsy on his skates almost all year. Like he was trying to hard? Just seemed to me like he was falling all the darn time. Anyone agree? Or, is it just me?

  • Mily

    I don’t know what to think – the fact that Ovechkin seems to be happy, smiling, enjoying himself or the fact that Ovechkin seems to be too happy, too smiley, and enjoying himself too much. On one hand, I don’t want him to be in the dumps forever but on the other…where’s the week long mantra chanting and meditating to achieve the ultimate Buddha state?

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  • Dara

    @Painkiller: I agree, Ovie looked clumsy all year. I would be watching the games wondering why the heck he was off his feet so much. It seemed like he was falling all the time.