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HomeSports"People were writing us off." What does Ovechkin's viral smile mean?

“People were writing us off.” What does Ovechkin’s viral smile mean?

Date: May 22, 2024 Time: 11:49:29

Making the playoffs means a lot to Washington leader Alexander Ovechkin. His Cheshire Cat-style smile during the final seconds of the decisive regular-season game against Philadelphia quickly went viral and became perhaps the biggest meme of recent days.

After failing to make the play-offs last season for the first time since 2014, the Capitals are not taking this opportunity for granted. Washington hockey players talk about the same thing. They also talked about what reaching the Stanley Cup meant to Ovechkin. Washington’s own captain shared his thoughts. What did they say?

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“Make the playoffs? Yes, it’s great,” Ovechkin said. “That’s why we’ve been fighting for this spot all year.” It’s a fun time.”

Washington, which finished second in the Eastern Conference wild card zone with 91 points (40-31-11), will be a clear loser in the series with the Rangers, who won the President’s Cup with 114 points (55-11) in the NHL Regular Season 23-4). But the Capitals are used to being underrated and have already proven many doubters wrong by finishing the regular season with three wins in four days and a playoff berth.

So maybe there was some “I told you so” in Ovechkin’s smile, but there was no satisfaction in it.

“I think he was very happy,” rookie center Hendrix Lapierre said. “These guys have been competitive for a while, and I don’t think anyone was counting on us this year, so it was kind of a smile: ‘You know what? “People may have written us off, but we knew we could do it.”

Ovechkin noted, “Our team had ups and downs, trades, all kinds of situations, but we got through it and made the playoffs. This is the most important thing for us.”

Perhaps the toughest moment came before the March 8 deadline, when the Capitals sent center Evgeni Kuznetsov, a good friend of Ovechkin and one of the heroes of the 2018 Stanley Cup victory, to Carolina after trading previously right forward Anthony Mantha to Las Vegas and defender. Joel Edmundson to Toronto, all for draft picks.

Evgeny Kuznetsov in Washington

Photo: David Zalubowski/AP/TASS

At the time, Washington was five points out of a playoff spot, but Ovechkin later vowed that the Capitals would continue to fight for a Stanley Cup spot.

“He wants to win so bad,” Washington head coach Spencer Carbery said. — Management must make decisions that are in the best interest of the entire organization and its future, and it does not matter whether you agree or not. But I think the way Ovi handled it was impressive. He did not hesitate for a second and did not send any message to the address.

“He worked and fought just as hard, and after the deadline he received support, maybe even more than before.”

The Washington captain’s season was perhaps the strangest of his career. Ovi scored eight goals in his first 43 games, then scored 23 goals in his final 36 games to finish the regular season with 31 goals, setting the NHL record for most 30-goal seasons.

Having overcome all the difficulties, Ovechkin revived just in time and managed to help Washington get to the playoffs.

“His play over the last three months has been tremendous,” Capitals right winger TJ Oshie said. “I know for the guys in the locker room, it wasn’t really a question of that, it was a question of when Ovi was going to get hot.” And naturally this happened.

…But this team… The eight of them lead us, and if he’s exhausted, then we’re finished.”

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Ovechkin still has no explanation for why his scoring luck ran out, why it was difficult for him to score in the first place.

“I don’t know,” he said. — You can see a couple of goals, they were shots, situations in which I put my stick in front of me. You just need to find a way to score. You have to fight. You have to fight for it. “It’s really nice to go out on the ice and help the team win.”

Ovechkin scored his most important goals when the capitalians needed him most. He scored the winning goal in the match against Vancouver on March 16 (2-1) and two more, including the decisive one, in the match against Calgary two days later (5-2). During a six-win, seven-game streak from March 14-26 that gave Washington a two-point lead over Detroit for the second wild card spot, Alexander scored eight goals.

Ovechkin scored another game-winning goal in a game against Detroit on April 9 and finished the regular season with a set-up goal that put Washington ahead in the deciding game against Philadelphia.

“Even when the outlook didn’t look good, he never lost hope or faith or started thinking about himself,” Carbery said. “It was always about this: “How can I help the team get to the playoffs?” When we needed someone to create a dangerous chance or score an important goal, when we were climbing the ranks as a team and needed wins and results, he scored in every game during that period.”

Alexander Ovechkin

Photo: Washington Capitals HC

Ovechkin’s 72 playoff goals in 147 games rank second among active players, one behind Dallas forward Joe Pavelski, who has 73 goals in 182 games. Alex will likely have to add some goals to his sniping tally to give Washington a chance to challenge the Rangers.

“The chemistry in our locker room is amazing right now,” Ovechkin said. “Everyone knows their role and what they have to do. “We’re all enjoying our time and having fun.”

Ovechkin’s attitude, leadership and willpower on and off the ice bode well for this ragtag team. The atmosphere is tense as the team feeds off their captain’s energy before their first game against the New York Rangers.

“You saw his smile,” Dylan Strome smiled. “That’s what we all feel.” He has a great reaction to good moments throughout the season and gets excited.”

Oshie added: “He gets us into the fight.”

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Washington opens its first-round series at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. Ovechkin and his team will approach the match as the underdogs and, although this is not exactly the position in which the capitalians want to play against the winners of the President’s Cup, the captain is looking forward to the match.

“We all understand how we have to play, what kind of team New York is going to be,” Ovechkin said. “We’ll go game by game and see what happens.”

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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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