Alex Ovechkin is awake
Remember after Game 1 of the Montreal-Capitals series, when Alex Ovechkin had no shots or points for the first time in his NHL career, seemed passive on the ice, nearly disappeared at times, was criticized by his head coach, and was the subject of 722 "what's wrong with Ovechkin?" stories?
Ovechkin said he "don't feel that power or something" in Game 1, but Bruce Boudreau said not to worry.
"I think we're making mountains out of molehills," the coach said the next day, trying to quiet the storm. "He just had a bad game."
Three games later, Boudreau seems to have gotten it right. As I type, Ovechkin is now in the top six in playoffs points, points-per-game, goals and plus-minus. He's also tied for eighth in playoff hits; no one else in the top 20 has more than one goal. He was running around the ice after goals on Thursday, screaming what I can only assume were Russian profanities into his teammates' faces. And he got the haters hating, like with his pre-game skating routine near a young Canadian kid on the ice.
After Game 4, in which Ovechkin had two more goals and another assist, part of a first line that was buzzing much of the night, he was asked if the speed is back.
"Yeah, you know, I just getting in shape," Ovechkin said. "So I feel pretty good."
And his crucial goal, a missile that was almost past Carey Price before he could react?
"I just make a move and make a shot," Ovechkin said. "It was lucky. Price didn't make the save, so it's good."
"He gets that thing away so fast that I don't think Carey had a chance at all on it," Boudreau said. "I mean, that's his gift."
"When you give him time and he's that close to the net, he knows what to do," Price said. "That's why he scores 50 goals every year."
Ovechkin, like a lot of NHLers, does the smelling salts routine before every game. Sometimes CSN shows parts of it, and sometimes the network doesn't. This time, the camera was on Ovechkin for the whole process, which included five sniffs, and five ghastly grimaces. One look at these and I'd have headed to the showers. Anyhow, the point is, Ovechkin seems to be awake.
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