Former Washington Capitals blueliner and Florida Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas didn’t hold back in his first media availability of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
As he prepares to take on his former team, Gudas was blunt as he discussed how the Presidents’ Trophy winners need to play against Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals.
“He shoots at everything… We can’t give him any respect,” Gudas said of Ovechkin on Sunday. “We have to play him as hard as anyone else.”
Ovechkin, who appears likely to play in Game 1 after missing the end of the regular season with an upper-body injury, will be instrumental to Washington’s success in the postseason. He led the team in goals (50) and points (90) through 77 outings this season. The 36-year-old also continued to make history and climbed all the way up to third on the NHL’s all-time goals list. In addition, Ovechkin finished fourth in the league in goals this season. This will be Ovechkin’s 14th career playoff appearance.
READ MORE ON WHN: Capitals Fine With Underdog Status Going Into Playoffs
For the first time in a long time, the Capitals are considered underdogs going into the first round vs. Florida. The Panthers have a star-studded roster that features Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Sergei Bobrovsky and Claude Giroux, among others.
They also have a strong blue line that will get even stronger when Aaron Ekblad returns from injury. Gudas is on the top-4 for Florida and led the NHL in hits this season with 355.
Gudas and Ovechkin both played together in D.C. during the pandemic shortened 2019-20 campaign. The Czech blueliner first came to Washington from Philadelphia in a one-for-one trade for Matt Niskanen. In 63 games with the Capitals, the Czech blueliner dished two goals, 13 assists and a whopping 164 hits.