Photo: Marc DesRosiers
The Capitals absorbed two tough losses in the past two days. Alex Ovechkin, in the middle of his longest goal drought of season, seems frustrated. He took it out on the referees after Monday’s contest in Ottawa, which Washington lost 3-1.
“To be honest with you, tonight I think both teams play well, but four guys out there didn’t do their job,” he told reporters, indicating the officiating staff of Brad Meier, Jean Hebert, Mark Wheler, and Pierre Racicot. “I think the guys celebrate New Year’s too early right before the game.”
“It was embarrassing to see,” Ovechkin added.
Ovechkin’s anger was mainly in regards to the hit he took up high from Chris Neil, left uncalled. While Neil was the aggressor, he also received the worst of the impact, suffering what appeared to be a leg injury. Neil didn’t return to the game.
“He just hit me straight up in the chin,” Ovechkin said. “That’s why he left the game. It was, I think, a bad hit. I think league have to look it. I saw him and I felt like he going to hit me shoulder to shoulder. I was ready for it, but he hit me right in my head, right in my chin. I asked the referee why he didn’t see it.”
Ovechkin displeasure with the refs didn’t end with the Neil incident. He also received a phantom slashing call later in the first, something head coach Adam Oates was visibly infuriated with on the Capitals bench.
While there’s some merit to Ovi’s words, he’ll likely be receiving a fine from the NHL. The league prohibits teams from publicly criticizing officiating. Players, however, usually get off easier than those in management positions. I figure Ovechkin’s wallet will probably take a hit of around $2,500.