ovechkin-running-celebration

Alex Ovechkin is one of the best hockey players in the world because of his size, conditioning, and talent, but Ovechkin’s intense desire to win is just as important. Capitals fans have seen Ovechkin’s passion ever since his first goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2005. As he’s gotten older, Ovechkin’s enthusiasm has grown to include his teammates’ accomplishments as well.

Sunday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center gave us another great example of Ovi reveling in his allies’ victories. After Nicklas Backstrom scored in the second period to give the Caps a 1-0 lead, Ovechkin celebrated with a hop and a running man. Like Ovi was literally sprinting on a slippery surface with skate blades.

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evgeny-kuznetsov-claps-for-himself

Evgeny Kuznetsov has always been good at celebrating goals. We’ve seen him kayak down the ice, do push-ups, play dead on the ice, do a baseball slide, start an invisible lawnmower, and whatever this actually is I still have no idea.

Before the season, Kuznetsov participated in the NHL Rookie Challenge. Upper Deck asked him to come up with the most creative goal celebration he could imagine. (I’m guessing this came after the figure skating.) Kuznetsov did not disappoint.

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Brouwer conservatively celebrating his goal

Brouwer conservatively celebrating. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)

A few weeks ago, Michael Wurman, Director of Game Entertainment and TV Production for the Washington Capitals, teased a special goal celebration for Troy Brouwer. During the Capitals open practice at Verizon Center on January 17, Brouwer busted a move and performed PSY’s Gangnam Style dance in skates. Wurman threatened that once Brouwer scores, that footage would be seen again.

“That song. Oy,” Wurman said. “But the people have spoken, they want it.”

On Friday, after Brouwer scored his third goal of the year with a perfectly placed shot over Ilya Bryzgalov’s right shoulder, Wurman gave the people what they wanted.

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Guys, Kuzya’s not really dead. We promise.

Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov started the season with an impressive stretch of nine goals and 21 points in his first 19 games. Since then, however, something wasn’t quite working for Kuzya who only added two goals and six points in his next 12 outings.

With that uncharacteristic stat-line (and news about his non-inclusion to the national team for the Moscow stage of EuroHockeyTour), the star right-wing faced adversity for one of the first times in his career. Heading into Traktor’s game against Spartak Moscow (featuring Shaone Morrisonn) Friday, Kuznetsov had something to prove.

And prove something he did. Kuznetsov scored two huge goals, collecting three points and 8 shots on goal in 19:53 of playing time. He also unveiled a new goal celebration.

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GIF by welshhockeyfan.tumblr.com

While the glove kiss remains Alex Ovechkin’s first reaction to scoring, we’ve seen him add new flourishes over the years. There’s jumping into the glass and the hot stick fiasco, and now it’s time to add a new item to the list: the belly pat.

We like to think of it as the gestural companion to “attaboy”, something that a four year-old boy who just learned how to eat with a fork might do when he’s pleased with himself. It’s a thing of joy, of bravado, of that precise brand of smugness that makes Ovi so lovable to his fans and so infuriating to everyone else.

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