A lot of fans and media types noticed that Alex Ovechkin seemed particularly energetic at the start of Game 1. Like, 11-year-old-playing-dodgeball-in-gym-class-after-eating-Pop-Rocks energetic. So I figured I’d ask teammates what they saw.
“He was on a mission right from a start,” Matt Bradley told me. “That’s what you expect out of your best players, and he’s one of the rare guys who’s your best offensive player but also your leader in hits, too, and he did that [Wednesday] night. It’s great to see”
“He’s the leader of this team and he played that way [Wednesday] night,” Matt Hendricks said. “He showed everyone in this room — and I think everyone in their room — that he’s here to play and he’s ready and he’s gonna do everything necessary to win. He had five hits, a bunch of shots, scoring opportunities, scored a goal. I think you’re continue to see the best of Alex.”
“He was really ready to go,” Jason Chimera said. “I think from last year, it was pretty disappointing for him, and I think he wanted to get back at ‘er. I think it was just one of those times where he had to wait all year just for that game, so he was pretty good. He did a lot of good things without the puck, he didn’t turn the puck over at all, which is really good. I think he played good playoff hockey.”
Aside from the goal, the moment everyone talked about was Ovechkin’s hit on Brandon Dubinsky. NHL.com’s Corey Masisak wrote an entire story on that moment.
“It’s always important to have a physical game right away, especially the beginning of the game,” Ovechkin said. “You set the tone, and the guys see you do that, or different guys make a hit and I see it, and I just want to do the same.”
So I asked teammates about that hit, too.
“It was huge,” Bradley said. “Big hit. He’s a big man, and when he gets you in his tracks, it’s tough to get out of ‘em.”
“I mean, he’s a big boy,” Scott Hannan said. “That’s the way he likes to play, that’s when he’s effective.”
“I’ve seen him do it a few times for year, that’s for sure,” Hendricks said. “He’s a freight train.”
The third most memorable Ovechkin moment may have been his post-goal celebration. He was amped, as they say. There was a lot of screaming.
“I was telling him to settle down; if it didn’t go in, he’d waste all his energy on the reaction,” Chimera said. “But it was good. That’s just him. He wants to score goals, he wants to do well for the team, and he’s an infectious player. You see that guy with such energy playing the game, it’s just fun to see, and you just want to follow a guy like that.”