Alex Ovechkin is refocused on the NHL, and not the fallout in Russia following his country’s poor performance at the Vancouver Games.
“I’ll talk about the NHL, and no more Olympics, please,” Ovechkin said after a brief practice in Buffalo on Wednesday morning before the Washington Capitals’ game against the Sabres. For Ovechkin, it’s his first game since Russia’s 7-3 loss to Canada in the quarter-finals of the Olympic men’s hockey tournament last week.
Though the NHL’s leading scorer described the Olympic experience as good, Ovechkin sidestepped a question about the latest news in Russia that Leonid Tyagachev, the head of the Russian Olympic Committee since 2001, had lost his job after the nation won just 15 medals – and only three gold – in Vancouver.
“I’ve said, we’re all disappointed, but let’s move forward,” said Ovechkin, who has 42 goals and 47 assists in 54 games this season. “Let’s talk about the future, not what happened in the tournament.”
The Russian men’s hockey team’s inability to win a medal was considered a major disappointment for a star-studded group that was projected to contend for the gold medal.
With the Capitals, Ovechkin has reason to look forward. Washington (41-13-8) enters the game against Buffalo with a league-leading 90 points. With 20 games left, the Capitals have all but secured a playoff berth.
“You just can’t wait until the season’s going to be over and the playoffs are going to start,” he said. “The most important thing that when you go to the playoffs, you’re in good shape, you’re not tired and you just concentrate on your game.”
The Capitals had won 14 straight before entering the NHL’s Olympic break on an 0-1-2 skid, capped by a 4-3 shootout loss to St. Louis on Feb. 13.