Washington Capitals bench boss Peter Laviolette was a guest on 106.7 The Fan on Monday. During his segment he was asked about Alex Ovechkin and the process of working him back into the lineup following his 10 days on the COVID-19-related absences list.
Laviolette said he met with Ovechkin prior to his first game back against the Bruins on Saturday night. He wanted to see how he was doing and to discuss his plan to keep him under 15 minutes of total ice time.
”We talked, after the morning skate, we had a conversation, just to talk about how he was feeling…I said I really want to try and just keep your minutes in check and not go crazy here, just to protect you a little bit as well. It just ended up working out that way.”
Laviolette said Ovechkin was well rested for the overtime period in his first game back. Ovechkin would score the game-winning goal just 28 seconds into the extra frame.
”He didn’t play the last four or five minutes. We had a penalty to kill and I just didn’t want to put him in a situation where he’s uncomfortable. It was a tie game, so I put some checkers out on the ice for a couple of the shifts and Backy’s line and we got to the overtime and that was the perfect time. He was rested and ready to go. He hadn’t played too much.”
Laviolette said that Ovechkin’s playing time will increase in tonight’s game against the Bruins.
“Going into tonight, he did get to skate yesterday, which was good, so he has a game under his belt, he has a practice under his belt. I think his minutes can go up a little bit tonight. From there we get a couple more practices for him and then I think it will be back to business at that point.”
Laviolette was asked if he had learned anything new about any of the big-name players on the team, Alex Ovechkin for example.
”Ovi is a powerful man, I think I knew that though, from coaching against him,” said Laviolette. “I remember how hard he would hit people, he would take eight to ten strides and really drop his shoulder into defensemen on the forecheck, and he even still does it now. I think he had three or four hits in the game the other night. He’s a powerful man.”
As for actual things he didn’t know before, Laviolette said he always knew Ovechkin as one of the best goal scorers of all time, but didn’t know how good of a person Ovechkin was.
“When you coach somebody from afar, you don’t get to know them as a person. When you’re on the other bench you don’t get to know them. And while I’ve said hi to him and I’ve had quick conversations through the course of my time coaching, now obviously it’s different. I think for me, he’s just a real good human being, like a real nice person. Sometimes that gets lost, because you think of him as one of the top goal scorers to ever play the game. In the end, he’s got a great personality and he’s a good human being. It’s been really good working with him.”
The Capitals and Bruins go at it again tonight in their second game of a two-game set at Capital One Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:07 p.m.
By Jon Sorensen