Capitals

Quick Links

In statement, Alex Ovechkin remains defiant on Olympics, but concedes he won't play in 2018

usatsi_10014317.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

In statement, Alex Ovechkin remains defiant on Olympics, but concedes he won't play in 2018

On the eve of media day at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, Alex Ovechkin answered a question that was looming over the Capitals’ 2017-18 season before it was even asked: the Russian superstar now concedes that he won’t participate in February’s Olympic Games.

From a heartfelt statement Ovechkin released late Thursday night:

“I see the news this week and I am very disappointed that IOC, IIHF and NHL put me and all NHL players in this position when some of the best players in world do not have chance to play in the Olympic Games, This is not just about me but all the NHL players who want to play and have a chance to win Gold for their country.  Our countries are now not allowed to ask us to play in the Olympics. Me, my teammates and all players who want to go all lose. So do all the fans of hockey with this decision that we are not allowed to be invited. NHL players in the Olympics is good for hockey and good for Olympics. It sucks that will we not be there to play!!”

On Friday, Ovechkin will face questions from local reporters for the first time since Washington's playoff ouster last May as training camp gets underway in Arlington, Va.

Ovechkin had previously said that he intended to suit up for Russia in PyeongChang, regardless of the NHL’s decision not to participate. The NHL sent its players to the past five Olympics, dating to 1998. 

Last week, though, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic that the International Ice Hockey Federation had assured the league it would not permit any player currently on an NHL contract to participate in the Olympics. 

RELATED: CSN, CAPITALS ANNOUNCE 2017-18 SCHEDULE

In other words, the decision was no longer up to Ovechkin. The sanctioning body of the Olympic tournament said he could not go.

“Now the IIHF and NHL say my country is not allowed to ask anybody in the NHL to play and there is nothing to talk about anymore.”

Ovechkin, who turns 32 on Sunday, also said he hopes to return to Olympic competition at the 2022 Games but added that it’s now time for him to turn his focus to his other childhood dream: hoisting a Stanley Cup.

There is nothing like Olympic Games... It is still my dream to win an Olympic Gold medal for my country.  I hope things will change and all of us will have a chance to go again in 2022.  What's most important to remember is kids have lots of dreams. My focus as it always is this time of year is on my other dream as a kid, to try to win the Stanley Cup.  I am excited training camp has started in Washington and the time for talking is done.  We just have to go out and do it and I will try my hardest to help my teammates win like I do every year since I came to the NHL. 

Read the statement in its entirety here.

Quick Links

NHL Power Rankings: The Caps are overcoming all obstacles, even the loss of Oshie

usatsi_10422847.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

NHL Power Rankings: The Caps are overcoming all obstacles, even the loss of Oshie

If you were to make a list of the players the Capitals could not afford to lose, chances are T.J. Oshie would be near the top of that list. Unfortunately, the Caps’ winger has missed the last six games due to an upper-body injury he suffered from a hit to the head by Joe Thornton.

Yet, even with Oshie out of the lineup the past six games, Washington has managed a 5-1-0 record.

SEE THIS WEEK’S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

Oshie is the undisputed energy leader of the Caps. He was considered so important, in fact, that a team with significant salary cap constraints still elected to re-sign him in the offseason to an eight-year, $46 million deal that carries a $5.75 million cap hit.

Oshie’s injury, however, has not cooled off the red-hot Caps who have now won 11 of their last 14 games. It is still clear the team is missing him—their 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders in which the Caps lacked any energy at all is evidence of that—but the way the team has been able to rally without him is impressive.

If Washington can win five out of six without Oshie, how much better will they be once he gets back into the lineup?

The Caps keep winning and that means they keep climbing in the NHL Power Rankings. See how high they climb in this week’s rankings here.

Quick Links

Was Evgeny Kuznetsov even trying to shoot on his game-tying goal?

usatsi_10482869.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Was Evgeny Kuznetsov even trying to shoot on his game-tying goal?

What is the one knock on Evgeny Kuznetsov’s game?

You know what it is. Everybody say it with me now: He needs to shoot the puck more.

It’s no secret what fans want the talented Russian forward to do.

They yell it from the stands of Capital One Arena or when they watching the TV braodcast at home.

Heck, Barry Trotz has talked about it to the media before.

That’s what made Saturday’s win over the Anaheim Ducks so refreshing.

With Washington down 2-1 in the third, Jakub Vrana found Kuznetsov in the slot and he buried it into the net behind Ducks goalie John Gibson. He even had Tom Wilson on the back door to pass to, but he chose instead to shoot the puck. That shows that he…wait, what’s that?

“I think Kuzy was, on his goal, I think he was trying to make one more pass,” Trotz said after the game.

No way. This is just the head coach being tongue-in-cheek, right?

Watch the replay and see for yourself:

RELATED: 5 REASONS THE CAPS BEAT THE DUCKS

Oh. Yeah, that was definitely a pass.

Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano reaches in to try and get his stick in the way of the shot and the puck deflects off his stick and into the net. If you watch, however, the puck was never intended to go on net. Instead, Kuznetsov was trying to get it to Wilson on the back door.

CAPS EXTRA PODCAST: GAME 34 VS. DUCKS

At this moment, Kuznetsov still has the puck on his stick, but the blade of the stick is not facing the goal. It is facing Wilson.

The fact that he has not yet released the puck at this point means he’s not aiming for the goal.

While aiming at Wilson, Cogliano’s stick gets in the way and deflects it on net.

Could Kuznetsov have gotten that puck to Wilson? Defenseman Kevin Bieksa is in the passing lane, but if anyone could thread that needle, it’s Kuznetsov. The point , however, is that passing here is the wrong decision.

Kuznetsov has the opportunity to shoot from a high-danger area. Wilson would have had a layup if Kuznetsov had gotten him the puck, but trying to pass through Bieksa is a much more difficult play. If you already have the puck in a high-danger area with an opportunity to shoot, you need to take that opportunity.

The bad news is Kuznetsov was trying to pass up a scoring chance for a more difficult play to set up a teammate. The good news is that it didn't matter. Cogliano’s effort to try to defend the shot ended up putting the puck into the back of the net thus saving Kuznetsov from making the wrong decision.

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, but there’s still a lesson here for Kuznetsov on why shooting the puck is the better option.