This should not come as a total surprise to anyone who watched Alexander Ovechkin disappear for stretches in the Capitals’ seven-game series loss to Pittsburgh: Dude was ailing.
Today the Russian Ice Hockey Federation announced that Ovechkin will not join the national team at the World Championships because of a lower-body injury. Guys skip Worlds all the time, and at this time of year everyone is banged-up enough to warrant rest, but the RIHF’s statement makes it sound like he was in real pain:
[D]uring a conversation with coaches, Alexander Ovechkin stated that he is ready to join the team immediately as he always does, but doesn’t want to let the team down because he finished the NHL playoffs on pain numbing injections.
This is entirely speculation, but it’s hard not to think of Ovechkin getting hit and flipped by Toronto’s Nazem Kadri in Game 5 of the first round:
I’m no doctor, but I am a blogger and that left knee’s fucked up. Ovechkin immediately left the game, though he was back out for the start of the second period.
We’ll learn more information on Friday, which is pack-up-your-shit-for-the-summer day in DC. We’ll likely find out Ovechkin was among a number of Capitals playing through injuries, though whatever he’s got may help explain his difficult postseason, in which he put up five goals and three assists in 13 games. Depending on what it is, exactly, it may not explain why the 31-year-old Ovechkin had his career worst goals per game and second-worst points per game in the regular season.