Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin injured his knee last night in a collision with Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tim Gleason. Ovechkin, who initiated the hit, had to be helped off the ice, and received a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct. Here's video of the collision:
This ejection comes just two games after Ovechkin was ejected for boarding Patrick Kaleta of the Buffalo Sabres. Although there is no mandatory suspension (because one ejection was for boarding and the other was for a knee-check), many are speculating that the proximity of these two hits (and Ovechkin's knee-check on Sergei Gonchar in the playoffs last season) will merit a suspension and fines from the league.
Corey Masisak reports that Capitals GM George McPhee said that Ovechkin, who was unable to put any weight on his right leg as he left the ice, will not have an MRI until he is evaluated by team doctors on Tuesday. According to several sources, Ovechkin was seen leaving the rink with a slight limp but without crutches or a brace. When asked about the incident, Ovechkin said he was under strict orders from the team not to discuss anything.
Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau, on the other hand, talked extensively about the incident in his postgame press conference. Although he did not shed much light on Ovechkin's knee, he did offer his opinion on the hit. When asked if the hit was ejection worthy, Boudreau responded:
No, but when they see the guy down - I didn't realize that Gleason was going to miss two shifts and that was it. I think if Gleason had gotten up it would have been a two-minute penalty.
Boudreau also compared Monday night's hit with Ovechkin's hit on Sergei Gonchar from last year's playoffs and Georges Laraques' hit on Niklas Kronwall:
I think it's the same thing as with [Ovechkin's knee-on-knee hit on Pittsburgh's Sergei] Gonchar last year. He leans in with the shoulder. We looked at it about 20 times and his leg follows it. [Recently suspended Montreal winger Georges] Laraque didn't lean in at all and he just goes out and takes the knee. But Alex is trying to hit him. Gleason makes a pretty good move to the inside. As he's moving, his leg comes out and hits him.
Although there is no definitive word on the severity of Ovechkin's injury, Corey Masisak reports that Ovechkin was on the ice before Capitals practice on Tuesday for about four minutes not in full equipment:
At first, Ovechkin was skating without using his right leg to push off at all, then he took small strides with both legs. Eventually, he was moving his feet close together and far apart to stretch his legs out and finally he bent his right knee a few times before leaving the ice.