ARLINGTON, Va. -- Alex Ovechkin's right knee doesn't seem to be the issue. He says it's just sore.
The concern is that he's now been tossed out of two games in less than a week, and his coach is suggesting that maybe it's time for the league's two-time reigning MVP to curb some of his "pretty reckless" ways.
As for Ovechkin, he was candid: "I play risky." He also said he sees no reason to change.
Ovechkin was pronounced "day-to-day with a sore knee" by the Capitals on Tuesday, a day after he initiated a frightening knee-to-knee hit on defenceman Tim Gleason in a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. He was on the ice in a red Capitals track suit about 25 minutes before the start of practice and skated for less than five minutes but did not move at full speed.
"It's not a bad injury," Ovechkin said. "I thought it was going to be worse, but thank God I can walk, I can skate. Of course, it's a little bit sore, but it's not that serious."
Ovechkin didn't rule out playing in Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers, but he might not have a choice in the matter. He was given a five-minute major penalty for kneeing and a game misconduct for the hit on Gleason, just two games after he was whistled for a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct for his hit on the Buffalo Sabres' Patrick Kaleta last week.
As the Capitals were waiting to hear from the league office about a possible suspension, Ovechkin was already pleading his case. He said he didn't have time to pull back when Gleason changed directions while attempting to push the puck out of the Hurricanes' zone.
"I can do nothing about it," Ovechkin said. "It's just a moment of the game. I turned and realize I don't have time to stop."
Ovechkin was defiant when asked about his style of play. No one scores goals better, but he also loves to hit. He leads the Capitals with 18 goals, 30 points -- and 44 penalty minutes. He missed six games earlier this season with an upper-body injury, the first time in his career he's had an injury that cost him more than one game.
"Why do I have to listen to somebody who say, 'Hey, you have to change your game, and somebody going to kill you,"' Ovechkin said. "Well, nobody going to kill me. I just play my game and I just enjoy my time and I enjoy my life. It's me, and it is what it is."
"I play risky," he said. "I won't try and hit and make some people get hurt, but people sometimes turn right away and I don't have time to realize and stop. What can you do? You can do nothing."
Coach Bruce Boudreau isn't so sure anymore. After two years of essentially letting Ovechkin be Ovechkin, the coach said it's perhaps time for a heart-to-heart talk.
"He's pretty reckless," Boudreau said. "It's hard telling a guy that scores 60 goals a year to change the way he plays. At the same time, I don't want to see him getting hurt. Maybe he has to pick his spots a little better. The open-ice hits, you just look around the league. It's not only the hitter, it's the guy that gets hit. ... It's something that will have to be addressed by us, I guess. ... Not only as a coach, but as somebody who admires him, I just don't want him to put himself in harm's way, so we'll see."
Boudreau said Ovechkin isn't trying to play dirty.
"Alex plays hard," Boudreau said. "All the time. I don't think there's a malicious bone of him trying to hurt anybody. He just plays hard and he plays to win every shift. And it's a really fine line between taking that away from him, and I don't see how you can take it away other than talking to him and saying, 'We don't want to put you in that situation any more.' But when he gets out there, he just wants to win so badly he does whatever we can for that team to succeed."