There has been no shortage of reaction to Alex Ovechkin’s surprise knockout of Andrei Svechnikov in the Capitals’ Game 3 loss to the Hurricanes on Monday.
Shortly after the fight, which was only the fourth of Ovechkin’s career and the Capitals captain’s first since 2010, UFC tweeted a video of the bout with a quote from legendary mixed martial artist Conor McGregor: “Precision beats power, and timing beats speed.”
The 19-year-old Svechnikov’s older brother, Evgeny, a forward in the Detroit Red Wings’ system, was less enamored with the fight, which was over in seconds.
“One, two Freddy’s coming for you,” Evgeny wrote in his Instagram story, in which he also tagged Ovechkin’s Instagram account. There aren’t any Freddy’s on the Hurricanes’ roster. The line, an adaptation of the nursery rhyme “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe,” is an apparent reference to Freddy Krueger and the 1984 horror film “Nightmare on Elm Street."
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports that Svechnikov’s Instagram story was a “stupid post” and “there will be an appropriate response.”
Andrei Svechnikov, who is more than 40 pounds lighter than the 33-year-old Ovechkin, had to be helped to the dressing room after the fight and did not return to the game. Hurricanes Coach Rod Brind’Amour said Tuesday that the rookie, who scored 20 goals during the regular season, is in the concussion protocol and is not expected to play in Game 4 on Thursday.
While Brind’Amour took issue with Ovechkin dropping his gloves first on Monday, NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May said he doesn’t expect the Hurricanes to retaliate later in the series.
"This is just one of those things that’s a big highlight for a couple of days,” May said Tuesday during an interview with the Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan. “If they think they’re going to go after Ovechkin, then the Caps can do the same thing and start going after their players, and [Tom] Wilson can just skate over to their bench, he’s the toughest player on the ice, he can say, ‘Anyone does anything like that again, I’m grabbing Sebastian Aho and he’ll never play hockey the rest of this series.’”
In other words, one, two, Tom’s coming for you, though that would be a risky response given Wilson’s history of suspensions for controversial hits. When May saw Ovechkin fighting Svechnikov, he said his first concern was that Washington’s best goal scorer might break a thumb in the process. While Ovechkin is never afraid to make a big hit, there’s a good reason he can still count his career fights in more than 1,000 games on one valuable hand.
“If anything, Ovi shouldn’t have fought him because it takes him off the ice for five minutes, the most dangerous weapon on the power play,” May, who had 91 career fights with the Capitals, said. “Ovi was probably frustrated at the amount of sticking the guy has done. If we went back and did the replays of every one of these games, and showed how many times that kid was cross-checking after the whistle, coming in late with the hits. There’s a reason that players have been going after that guy and hitting them as hard as they can.”
During intermission of Game 3, NBC Sports analyst Anson Carter took a look at some of the extracurricular slashing from earlier in the series that may have contributed to Monday’s fight.
“Game 1, you see Svechnikov and Ovi getting into it a little bit,” he said. “First, you see Ovechkin tries to run the young Russian and then Svechnikov’s like, ‘You know what? You can’t hit me like that, I don’t care if I’m 18 or 19 years old.’ Ovi takes offense to that and they separate, and they go their separate ways. In [Monday’s] game, Ovechkin hits him again and Svechnikov says, ‘You know what? Don’t do that, Ovi, I don’t care if you’ve played in this league a long time.’ The young Russian says ‘Let’s go Ovi, let’s drop the gloves.’ Right away he’s in big trouble.”
Ovechkin expressed concern for Svechnikov’s condition after the game.
“First of all, I hope he’s okay,” Ovechkin said. “I’m not a big fighter, and he’s the same. He asked me to fight and said, ‘Let’s go.’ I hope he’s okay. You don’t want to see a guy get hurt or something.”
May, who retired in 1995, suggested that Ovechkin’s remorse was unnecessary.
“Two guys dropped their gloves, one guy lost,” he said on NBC Sports Washington’s “Capitals Talk” podcast. “Back in my era, no one ever apologized for a fight. That’s kind of the stock thing that Ovi did, now you say, ‘Oh, I hope he’s all right.’ Every hit from behind, every big-time hit in the middle of the ice, players are saying, ‘Well, I hope he’s okay.’ Well, I never sent a text, I never sent a thank you, I never sent a letter. I never had anyone visit me when they hurt me, so, you know what, it happened. Svechnikov will play hockey again, Ovechkin will play the next game.”
This post has been updated.
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