Washington Capitals forward, Alexander Ovechkin didn’t make it through the first period today in his team’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks. Ovechkin, who has two league MVP awards and currently leads the NHL this season in scoring, will be taking a few games off for his hit to Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell, with 7:44 left in the first period.
Campbell was going back into his zone for the puck, when Ovechkin skated in from behind driving Campbell into the boards head first. Campbell stayed on the ice for many minutes before finally being escorted to the locker room with the help of a trainer. Campbell suffered an upper-body injury and will not make the upcoming road trip with the Blackhawks to the West Coast.
The Capitals were down 1-0 at the time of Ovechkin’s hit and ejection. With Ovechkin out, the Blackhawks would eventually build a 3-0 lead heading into the third-period, only to give up three third-period goals, and eventually losing the game in overtime on a goal by Nicklas Backstrom.
Ovechkin was initially assessed a five-minute boarding penalty followed by a game misconduct, that sent him to the locker room for the remainder of the game.
This isn’t the first time this season that Ovechkin has served game misconducts. Ovechkin’s last incident occurred on November 30 against the Carolina Panthers defenseman Tim Gleason. Ovechkin was the culprit with a knee-to-knee hit on Gleason, netting him a two-game suspension for his reckless hit. Less than a month earlier, he was ejected in a game against the Buffalo Sabres for a boarding hit against Patrick Kaleta. Ovechkin’s boarding hit left Kaleta bleeding from his nose, as he skated off the ice.
With the history that Ovechkin has for his style of play, and the type of hit he laid on Campbell, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is given more than two games for this incident. This is the third incident for Ovechkin since November.
A major focal point of the league right now, is focusing on player safety and malicious hits. More and more, star players are missing games for injuries and the league is looking at ways to minimize the injuries and the violent hits.
Earlier this week, Penguins forward Matt Cooke was the topic of conversation after his elbow to the head of Boston Bruin center Marc Savard. Savard was knocked out of the game and will miss the rest of the season as a result of Cooke’s hit. The league did not discipline Cooke for his hit, but they will be watching Cooke closer, as this wasn’t his first instance of violent hits.
The Capitals have 13 games remaining and they are comfortably holding the best record in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins are the closest team to the Capitals and they are 16 points behind. It is likely that Ovechkin will miss at least two games if not more for a repeat offense. Ovechkin’s absence will be missed by the Capitals but they should be alright while he’s out.