The Capitals will have a shot at snapping the Ducks’ 11-game win streak Monday night, but it’s safe to say Washington might have to attempt to do so without the services of captain Alex Ovechkin.
Ovechkin found himself in hot water Saturday evening against the Bruins when he delivered a hit from behind on Boston defenseman Kevan Miller early in the second period. Miller had his back turned to the play to collect a puck along the boards when Ovechkin crunched the Bruins blueliner into the boards, which forced Miller to leave the game with an apparent shoulder injury:
Ovechkin knew exactly what was coming his way when he made contact with Miller. He immediately stops, looks at the referee and doesn’t seem to attempt to plead his case to the official making the call. For the hit, Ovechkin was assessed a major for boarding, but he was allowed to remain in the contest and played another 10:16 in a contest the Capitals eventually won in overtime.
Miller did not return to the game following the hit, and, post-game, Boston coach Claude Julien told media that Miller “may have gone to the hospital,” according to CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty.
As for the hit, the Department of Player Safety is likely to take a good look at Ovechkin’s check on Miller and it wouldn’t be shocking were the Capitals winger handed a suspension. Ovechkin’s hit doesn't have the same type of grey area that a check to the head does, and it seems pretty cut and dry if the league puts the onus on Ovechkin. Was Miller turned long enough for Ovechkin to change his body position or avoid contact? It looks that way. Was the hit on Miller a dangerous play? Absolutely.
If the DOPS does choose to suspend Ovechkin, a few things will come into play, too. First and foremost, Ovechkin does have a suspension history, so that will be considered in doling out any potential punishment. He has been suspended three times in his career. Ovechkin has had a clean record since a three-game ban in February 2012, however, and that may work in his favor when it comes to the length of any suspension. That is, of course, excluding Ovechkin’s one-game suspension for missing the All-Star Game this past January.
Miller’s potential injury will also come into play. If Ovechkin hurt the Bruins defender, that will certainly be something discussed when it comes to sentencing the Capitals star, if the DOPS chooses to suspend.
Any suspension to Ovechkin, though, wouldn’t greatly impact the Bruins. Miller’s absence would, though. The concern for the Bruins is that Miller could potentially be out long-term, especially considering his history with shoulder injuries. In October 2014, Miller suffered a shoulder injury that forced him to miss 12 games, and he again hit the shelf with an upper-body injury in February 2015. That ailment kept him on the sidelines for the Bruins’ final 26 games.