Alex Ovechkin doesn't like to miss time due to an injury, so when he suffered a lower-body injury in the Capitals' preseason finale on Friday, the future Hall of Famer wasn't happy.
With the Caps' regular-season opener on Wednesday night, Ovechkin's injury left his status for opening night uncertain. That wasn't acceptable for Ovechkin, and he apparently told his coach right after he got hurt that he'd be ready for the first game of the year.
"I went in and saw Ovi and he was just angry that it happened," Peter Laviolette told the Sports Junkies Wednesday morning. Just kind of irritated and he said, 'I'll be there Game 1, I'll be there.' There's more to it than that. He went out yesterday, he skated, that's a positive thing, and I truly think we'll know more. I'll know more when I get in there [Wednesday] morning."
Ovechkin has been a model of durability throughout his 16-year career with the Capitals. His "Russian Machine never breaks" quote still rings true 15 years later.
For now though, Ovechkin's availability for opening night will be determined by the training staff. The injury isn't considered serious and he's made progress toward playing after practicing on Tuesday, but there's no reason to risk losing your best player for an extended period of time this early on.
"Ovi, he wants to play every single game," Laviolette said. "He wants to be on the ice, he loves the game. If there's any way that he can [play], he will. I think what has to happen is that the people who take care of him, they're going to look at him and make sure that he's okay because it's Game 1, so there's no sense in risking."
With or without Ovechkin, the Capitals will open their 2021-22 regular-season schedule against the Rangers at home, starting at 7:30 p.m. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals Pregame Live and continues immediately following Wednesday's game with Capitals Postgame Live.