Did Alex Ovechkin Get Hurt in Game Three?

ovi-slashed

Ovi reacts after being slashed by Brad Richards in the third period of game three. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)

A few summers ago, Alex Ovechkin did an interview with Mike Vogel where he slouched. I didn’t think it was a big deal. A few screenshots later, Ovi’s bulging belly was the topic du jour and commenters everywhere opined about the Russian machine’s new chubbiness. The whole Fat Gate thing was ridiculous to me, because if you’ve ever seen Ovechkin, you’ve noticed how strong his core area is. It sticks out past his chest. It’s one of the reasons why Ovechkin’s such a physical player and has such explosiveness in his strides.

But since Ovechkin absorbed a crushing hip check from Anton Stralman to his leg, hip, and core in the first period of game three, he hasn’t been quite the same player.

When the check happened, I didn’t think much of it. Ovi takes a hundred blows like this every season, and usually he skates right through it. After this hit, however, Ovi struggled to get up, labored to his skates, and when he winded up to shoot later in the shift, his wrist shot lacked its normal zip.

ovi-hip-checked

Since the hit, Ovechkin has zero points, three shots on goal, and two hits. He has been a non-factor in the last five periods. In the two games before that, Ovechkin had one goal, one assist, 12 shots, and 12 hits. That’s a big difference in play.

Of course, Ovi’s struggles could easily be the result of other things. In games one and two, when Washington got the final line change, Ovechkin was matched up against Dan Girardi just 73.7% of the time. In games three and four in Manhattan, Ovechkin was matched by Girardi 80% of the time. Tactics have surely changed as well, and the Caps spent 2 more minutes killing penalties (when Ovi is not on ice) in games three and four.

While there are a number of factors that could explain Ovi’s lack of luster in New York, a guy who should know, defenseman Ryan McDonagh, said Ovechkin looked “tired.”

Ovechkin takes a lot of punishment. Brad Richards slashed him at the end of game three (see the headline photo). Taylor Pyatt nailed Ovi at center ice in the first period of game four.

Also in game four, Girardi hit Ovechkin sturdily along the boards.

That’s not a complete list. Ovechkin’s been hit a lot. Playing him physically is certainly the Rangers’ game plan, and it appears to be working. It is possible Ovechkin is playing through some pain, and he may have a real injury we won’t know about until locker clear-out day. Maybe not. Either way, it’s apparent that Ovi has not been at 100% in the last two games, and the Caps depend on him dearly to succeed.

  • blondinwrx

    russian machine never break.

    just need to make sure his personal water bottle is topped up with the goods from the motherland. I’m sure most of you have noticed, but he only drinks from a bottle the trainers hand him after every shift, and its marked with tape..

  • http://twitter.com/BarrowsBOY Andrew

    The last thing this playoff injury plagued team needs is their captain not at 100%. My kingdom for a 100% healthy caps playoff team.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dannyburrito Dan Stern

    Not every NHL player likes purple drink.

  • Pat

    I’ve defended OV on countless occasions but it seems to me like a pure lack of effort. He was able to skate hard when he wanted to, he simply seemed disinterested in the game to me

  • My thoughts

    I find that an odd statement. Why would Ovechkin or any player be disinterested and lack effort in the playoffs? To be in the playoffs is what they skate for… Obviously, just my opinion as your opinion is your’s.

  • Pat

    I agree 100% with you. The playoffs are what is most important to players and thats is why its mind boggling to me. I dont understand and I wish I did. Maybe effort was the wrong word, but whatever was wrong seemed like an issue in his head. He seemed very tentative. Maybe the pressure got to him, who knows. All I know is he was not skating hard last night, his defensive effort was worlds off from what we have seen recently. If a 4th liner was skating how he was last night, heads would roll. That being said, I have no clue why he looked the way he did. I just hope he looks different in game 5 or our team is in serious trouble.

  • yv

    I don’t think this is an injury.
    One of the main reason I think is that rookie coach Adam Oates was outplayed and tactically outsmarted in New York by battle-tested Torts, who successfully utilized their rights for last change. AO, Ovi and other players keep saying that they need to play their game and keep doing what they capable and done before. However, that is not enough. It is the same thing Caps was burnt twice before, when they couldn’t find any countermeasures against Habs in games 5-7 and vs Tampa, who changed their tactics in the middle of playoffs. Torts and NYR also changed their approach. They just following the rule, if you shutdown Ovi you will eventually shutdown Caps. So, they trying to totally limit and prevent any touches by Ovi during the game and power play especially. And without the puck Ovi feels lost. Caps urgently need to find new tactical weapons to unzip Ovi, otherwise series would be quickly over. Hopefully, home ice will provide such an opportunity tomorrow, despite during last game in VC Caps also couldn’t score, beside PP OTGWG.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    Here’s a great story by the New York Times that also explains some of Ovechkin’s troubles in Games 3 and 4 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/10/sports/hockey/rangers-hope-to-stop-capitals-alex-ovechkin-in-game-5.html?_r=0

  • Thomas

    Quit trying to give away your Chevy Andrew.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett
  • Nick

    Ovie looks like an old black lady in church in that picture. “LAWD LAWD LAWD LAWWWWD”

  • http://twitter.com/tnussbaum16 Tim Nussbaum

    It’s amazing how much better the TSN broadcast is than CSN. I didn’t see a replay of any of these plays watching on CSN and I really wanted to on the Stralman and Pyatt hits, as well as on many other plays. But I got all of Craig’s color…

  • Ash

    Dunno, he skated pretty hard in the first period… and got hit with a bogus charging call. And he had the roughing call the game before that. I agree his overall effort wasn’t there for game 4, but I think he’s been a little gun-shy of getting whistled, which throws off his whole game.

    I do hope he comes out confident and flying for game 5. Hopefully, home ice is a balm to him.