WASHINGTON, D.C. — Before taking off for Florida to open the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Washington Capitals got some positive news regarding captain Alex Ovechkin prior to Game 1 against the Panthers.
Ovechkin has been day-to-day with an upper-body injury that he suffered against the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 24. The 36-year-old went awkwardly into the boards and appeared to injure his arm, and he missed the final three games of the regular season. He has been a full go at practice over the last two days, and in a further update on Monday, head coach Peter Laviolette said that Ovechkin is making strides just in time for Tuesday.
“I think everything is moving in the right direction. He had another no-limitation practice. There’s no restrictions on him out there,” Laviolette said. “And so you hope that tomorrow he wakes up and everything moves forward with that and he’s a player. But he’s had two really good days.”
Ovechkin said on Sunday that he felt good and could have played in one of the final games of the 2021-22 regular season had they been playoff games.
“We knew we make playoffs, and we just decided to take a rest,” Ovechkin said, adding, “It’s going to be total different games than the regular season, obviously.”
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It is a major positive for the Capitals. Ovechkin led Washington with 50 goals and 90 points in 77 games in what was one of the best seasons of his 17-year career. The winger will make his 14th postseason appearance this year and will lead Washington into a tough first-round showdown with the No. 1 Panthers, who took home the Presidents’ Trophy as the top team in the regular season.
Despite the “underdog” status, Ovechkin said the team is ready to make strides in Sunrise, and he wants to see “no excuses” from his club.
“They are very solid group of guys, best team in the regular season, but in playoffs, it’s going to be different,” Ovechkin noted. “It’s going to be different mindset, it’s going to be different speed, it’s going to be different battle level.
“Since the beginning, the beginning of the year, it doesn’t matter. We have to take two steps, right?” Ovechkin said. “The first step is making the playoffs and then win the Cup. So we just have to take no excuses.”