After Sunday's 6-5 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings, Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals was asked about the status of countryman Pavel Datsyuk, whose status for the Olympics is unknown.
He said that players are beginning to wonder whether the Russian captain will be ready to go. Team Russia has already made two changes to the Olympic roster due to injuries.
"Of course it’s concerning.” Ovechkin told me on Sunday. “You worry that one of the best players in the world is injured. But I think he will do everything possible to represent his country. He is our captain.”
Ovechkin himself missed a few games recently because of injury, but will not try to be any easier on himself. “You shouldn’t save yourself playing hockey. Because, I think, if you try to save yourself, injuries will catch up with you.”
“The conditioning will be there.” Ovechkin continued. “Because you are in game shape already. And of course these three days that we are going to have before the Olympics will only serve us well. We only have one week left before the trip [to Sochi], and we still have three games left. You try not to think about [the Olympics], but it’s impossible to do.
“I think it is not a secret that we are going to be under an immense amount of pressure. The three days we will have will certainly be needed, maybe for someone to recover from an injury, to come up with optimal lines. We will also have to talk about the tactics, about the power play and the penalty kill. I think the special teams will be a very important component for us, a very important aspect of our game.”
Asked if he talks to his teammates about the Olympics and about Russia, Ovechkin said:
“Of course they do ask. Especially John Carlson. Backy [Nicklas Backstrom] knows what it’s like there because played there during the lockout. But for Americans, it’s a little scary to go there.”
Does he try to scare them on purpose to get them off their game for the 15th (Russia plays the U.S.)?
“No. I think they will already be scared when they come."