ARLINGTON, V.A. — Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin stands before the media at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, sporting a smile and taking a deep breath after testing negative for COVID-19. He says he feels good, and that he’s excited to potentially return to the lineup for Tuesday’s tilt with the Columbus Blue Jackets as the team begins the second half of the campaign.
The 36-year-old tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, leading him to not only miss that night’s tilt against Edmonton but the 2022 NHL All-Star Weekend. The experience left him disappointed, and also created quite a family ordeal.
“Yeah obviously it’s hard, but you know especially for my wife,” Ovechkin explained. “She came here and left Sergei and Ilya home, come here and in the morning like we do before the game testing and positive so… it was kind of hard for her but you know nothing you can do. We got rules and that’s it.”
Ovechkin was asymptomatic and said there was “nothing to do” during his quarantine. He ended up tuning into the festivities in Vegas, where he got to watch Kaprizov’s spot-on Great 8 imitation the breakaway challenge, and also got to watch teammates Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson, who took Ovechkin’s place, score in the 3-on-3 tournament.
“Yeah I think it’s pretty cool, you know? I think it was fun and I don’t know why he don’t get too many points. What’s the referee doing out there?” he demanded with a laugh.
While some speculated that Ovechkin didn’t want to go to the ASG after also opting out the last two seasons, Ovechkin shut that down quickly.
“Obviously, I want to play in All-Star Game. I want to play against Edmonton. But that is the rules. Nothing you can do.”
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After five days off, the Great 8 said he felt well-rested and that he is confident in the Capitals as they head into the second half of the season. With February presenting a smaller slate of games and more off days, Ovechkin believes Washington can capitalize on the time they have to condition and also get healthy.
“We gonna have lots of days off so just have to work for your conditioning work in your gym get more power in your body and get ready for rest of the season,” Ovechkin said, adding, “Most important thing like we gonna have Osh and Mo coming back soon. We gonna finally have full spots in the lineup but overall I think before the year we know like it’s gonna be hard year because of the covid and all this [protocols], you know? Nothing right now it is what it is. You have to go and play.”
The Russian has racked up 29 goals and 58 points through 46 games this season and continues to defy expectations while climbing the NHL leaderboard. He is currently seven goals shy of Jaromir Jagr for third on the NHL’s all-time goals list, and he is among the top scorers in the league.
What does Ovechkin think of his performance? “Not bad.”
“No I think it’s just a situation was a good offseason for me and we work hard… obviously when you like prepare what training have to be, prepare yourself for a long year,” Ovechkin explained. “Obviously also when you feel good, you just want to play more and more.”