Ovechkin, teammates defend hit on Girardi

Ovechkin, teammates defend hit on Girardi
May 6, 2012, 5:06 pm
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Barring a late afternoon phone call from Brendan Shanahan, Alex Ovechkins open-ice hit on Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals will go without further discipline from the NHL.

With 12:17 gone in the second period Ovechkin leaned heavily into a shoulder-on-shoulder hit and received a two-minute minor for charging. Replays showed Ovechkins skates were a few inches off the ice when he made contact with Girardi.

Earlier this season, Ovechkin was suspended three games for launching himself into Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek. For those who witnessed it on the ice or on the bench Saturdays hit paled in comparison.

I didn't feel, and I didn't see contact with the head at all, Ovechkin said Sunday after a brief practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

Capitals coach Dale Hunter called the hit incidental contact but acknowledged that as a repeat offender Ovechkin has to be careful with every hit he delivers.

I think everybody has to, he said.

Players in the Capitals locker room shared the same opinions on Ovechkins hit, saying that a natural instinct of a player is to protect himself and that Ovechkin was not targeting Girardis head, a key component in suspensions.

From the bench I thought it was just a collision, Jason Chimera said. If Ovi doesnt hit him, I think Girardis going to hit Ovi. One guy braced himself and one guy didnt.

Chimera said that although the number of hits and the speed of the game increases in playoff hockey, players still must show responsibility and respect for each other.

Guys have time to think if its dirty or not, Chimera said. Everyone has choices out there. You can choose to do the wrong thing or choose to do the right thing. When you see a guys number you dont step on the gas. You take that extra second. When a hits there you take it, but you do have choices out there. You know when a guys in harms way.