Automatic First Down
Alex Ovechkin declining a penalty like a NFL coach is not something you see in the NHL every day
In the National Hockey League, when a penalty is called, that's that. There's no choices, no accepting or declining like it's the NFL. Two minutes for tripping and a trip to the box for whoever committed the infraction.
On Wednesday night in Las Vegas, however, the great Alex Ovechkin channeled his inner NFL head coach, attempting to decline a penalty mid-game, something we can't say we've ever seen in a NHL rink before. Halfway through the first period, Ovi was slightly pushed/grabbed by Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty, causing him to "fall" to the ice.
Ovechkin, possibly realizing he might get called for embellishing, or just simply having too much pride to except a cheap penalty, immediately looked to the ref and waved him off:
Here's the thing -- it kinda worked? There's no way to know if the ref was actually about to blow the whistle, but Ovechkin quickly waving him off may have made him swallow it. It is Alex Ovechkin we're talking about here. Stars getting star treatment is nothing new in any league. Ovi is savvy enough to know he might be the one getting called for a penalty for embellishing there, which would take him off the ice for two minutes. It's genius, really.
Ovechkin is not a guy the Caps can afford to have off the ice, as he proved later in the game, scoring his 50th goal of the year and securing the ninth 50-goal season of his career:
Absolute legend. One more 50-goal season and he'll own the most 50-goal seasons with 10 in NHL history. As long as he keeps declining trips to the penalty box and staying on the ice, there's no doubt he'll accomplish the rare feat.