Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals had quite an eventful All-Star weekend in Raleigh, NC. As the third overall pick and second pick by Carolina Hurricanes’ Eric Staal to his team, Ovechkin won the breakaway challenge, had five attempts at the hardest shot challenge in the Skills Competition, and registered one goal and one assist in the All-Star Game on Sunday.
Before teammate Mike Green selected Alex Ovechkin for Team Staal, Ovechkin seemed pretty sure he would actually go first overall in the draft. Because of Ovechkin’s number one selection in 2004 to the Capitals, and Green being an alternate captain on the team picking first, Ovechkin seemed confident of the odds. “I told Greener he’s probably going to pick me,” said Ovechkin according to Dave Lozo’s NHL.com article. “So we’ll probably be on the same team.”
The following day, the All-Star Skills Competition took place, and as one of the NHL’s premier stars and most entertaining players, Ovechkin was going to have a crack at multiple events. His first event was the Breakaway Challenge, which he had won in 2008 and 2009. His first few years in this challenge, Ovechkin was a youngster. Now, with the likes of players like Evgeni Dadonov and P.K. Subban, he’s one of the veterans in this event. Facing against Pittsburgh Penguins’ goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, Ovechkin had difficulty actually getting the puck in the net. Nonetheless, he remained spectacular. One of his best attempts was his second one, where he lifted the puck with his stick from the get-go and bounced the puck until he got close to Fleury and tried to bat one in. His final try on the breakaway he came straight at Fleury but then goes on his knees, turns the stick around vertically, gets back up off of his knees, and puts the puck in the net on a backhand. Everyone watching looked thoroughly entertained.
Ovechkin called his final attempt on the Breakway Challenge a “[split] second decision” and seemed surprised that he was able to pull off such tricks, especially since he stated he would not have props like he did when he went “cowboy style” in Montreal’s All-Star Game.
Ovechkin’s next lone challenge was in the Hardest Shot Challenge. Players are supposed to get only two attempts at getting their hardest shot, but
Ovechkin received five. In his very first attempt, Ovi registered a 98.2 mph shot. His second attempt, Ovechkin went up to the puck and gave his hardest shot, but as he got all of it, his stick broke. Once he went to receive another stick, he went back to try again, only this time, the shot-tracker wasn’t registering the velocity of the shot. After two more times of this happening, Ovechkin broke his stick again and grabbed Penguin Kris Letang’s stick. Even after all the practice he got, Ovechkin only got the shot up to 97.2 mph — not even close to Zdeno Chara’s record-breaking, event-winning 105.9 mph shot.
“I broke two sticks today,” Ovechkin said after the event. “I didn’t have a third one so I just used Kris Letang’s stick. It is what it is.”
To finish off his weekend, Ovechkin notched the first goal of the All-Star Game when he looked as though he tried to shoot the puck for a tip-in off of Daniel Sedin’s stick. Instead, the shot went off of Duncan Keith’s stick for a goal to put Team Staal up 1-0.
Six minutes into the second period of the game, Ovechkin also nabbed an assist on Letang’s goal to give Team Staal a 6-4 lead in the game. Eventually, Team Lindstrom won 11-10, but in a high-scoring exhibition game, Ovechkin did his share of work.
Now the fun and games are over, and it is time to return to real hockey for both Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green. Ovechkin will hope lead his Capitals to a win against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday at home after losing two straight before the All-Star break. With 31 games remaining in Washington’s season, Ovechkin will need to continue production in this seemingly “off-season” for the Capitals’ offense. Entering into the break with finally a hat trick under his belt and a few goals after that, things seem to be turning around for Ovechkin late in this campaign.